How to Apply for a Medical Marijuana ID Card in California
Applying for a medical marijuana ID card is becoming more common every day. However, this doesn't mean the decision to use medicinal cannabis should be taken lightly.
Before you decide that using medicinal marijuana is right for you, you should consult a physician you trust who is familiar with your medical history. Some things you and your physician will want to take into consideration are your existing medications, your long-term medical diagnosis, why your current medications are not sufficiently addressing your condition, and what results you hope to achieve through the use of medicinal marijuana.
Remember, the use of marijuana, even with a doctor's recommendation, is still considered a federal crime in the United States.
Although more and more states are making the move to legalize medical marijuana, it is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug, placing it in the same class as heroin, LSD, and Ecstasy. Although you may be following all the legal requirements in your state to use medical marijuana, you are still at risk for federal prosecution. Therefore, it is extremely important to follow your state and county application process by the book and keep your documentation on your person at all times.
My girlfriend tells me I am quite the activist. I guess I do get excited about things I really care about, such as helping people like my son have the freedom to choose how to treat their chronic pain. We choose to do so through lots of ice, ibuprofen, and medicinal marijuana. That's just our personal choice and one that works better for him than Vicodin, Percocet, oxycodone, or any other opiate-based pain reliever he has tried.
When Is Medical Marijuana Recommended?
Talk to your doctor and see if you meet the following criteria.
Any patient (even a minor) with a serious medical condition can obtain a medical marijuana ID card. Qualifying conditions are:
- chronic pain,
- severe nausea,
- persistent muscle spasms,
- or any other chronic or persistent medical condition that limits their ability to conduct one or more major life activity as defined by the American Disability Act of 1990, or may cause harm if not alleviated.
Doctor's Written Documentation
How Do I Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card in California?
You must complete the Application/Renewal form (CDPH 9042) and provide the following information in order to receive an identification card. Submit both the CDPH 9042 and the following information to your county health department (or its designee).
1. Provide a government-issued photo identification card (such as a driver's license) issued to you.
- If you are under the age of 18 and lack photographic identification, you may substitute a certified copy of your birth certificate in place of photo identification. If you designate a primary caregiver on your application form, your primary caregiver must present photographic identification at the same time you submit your application. A primary caregiver may use a certified birth certificate if they are under the age of 18 and lack government-issued photo identification.
2. Provide proof of your county residency with one of the following items:
- A current rent/mortgage receipt or recent utility bill in your name bearing your current address within the county.
- A current California motor vehicle registration in your name bearing your current address within the county.
- A California Driver's License or a California Identification Card issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) bearing your current address within the listed county.
If you only possess a California Driver's License or California Identification Card with an older address listed outside the county, you may submit a DMV-issued Change of Address Certification Card (DL 43) listing your current address within the county when you present your identification. If you are less than 18 years of age, you may use any of the previously mentioned residency evidence belonging to your parent or legal guardian (if they also reside in the county).
3. Provide written documentation from your doctor recommending the use of medical marijuana to treat one or more serious medical conditions you suffer from. These include:
- Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS),
- chronic pain,
- persistent muscle spasms, including, but not limited to, spasms associated with multiple sclerosis,
- seizures, including, but not limited to, seizures associated with epilepsy
- severe nausea,
- or any other chronic or persistent medical symptom that either substantially limits the ability of the person to conduct one or more major life activities as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 or, if not alleviated, such chronic or persistent medical symptoms may cause serious harm to your safety or your physical or mental health.
4. Your doctor may use the Written Documentation of Patient's Medical Records form (CDPH 9044) to serve as the medical documentation.
5. The administering agency is required to verify an applicant's medical documentation. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that the authorized medical release of information is on file with their medical provider.
6. Contact your local county health department for office locations and identification card fees.
7. Medi-Cal participation at the time of application entitles the applicant to a 50 percent reduction in fees. Application fees are nonrefundable.
8. If you submit an incomplete application and/or fail to provide all the previously mentioned information, your application will be denied and you may be restricted from reapplying for six months.
You Are Officially Enrolled in a Medical Marijuana Program. Now What?
Protect your legal rights. Laws and procedures vary from state to state. Americans for Safe Access offers legal information and support relating to medical marijuana.
Which States Have Recognized Legalization of Medical Marijuana?
In the United States, 31 states (listed in the table below) plus the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have recognized medical marijuana.
In addition, recreational marijuana is now legal in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia. It has been decriminalized in numerous other states.
U.S. States and Territories With Medical Marijuana
District of Columbia
Note on Recreational Marijuana
As of January 1, 2018, it is no longer a requirement to obtain a medical marijuana card in order to legally possess marijuana in California.
My Personal Experience With Marijuana
Medical marijuana, cannabis cards, taxing marijuana, legalizing marijuana—pot seems to be on the minds of a lot of people these days. I do not smoke weed at this point in my life. I don't care for how I react to it, and it doesn't bring me the same pleasure it did when I was younger. However, I do believe that there is a large population of people who benefit from the effects of marijuana, and my son falls into that category.
I support the right of individuals to choose to smoke marijuana as a means of improving their quality of life. Some of those nearest and dearest to me are individuals who benefit from making this choice. Unfortunately, they face persecution and a lack of understanding due to the federal government's classification of marijuana as an illegal substance.
As we all know, marijuana is a hot topic in our country. Right now, the focus is slowly beginning to shift from the war on this "drug" to the potential monetary benefits that local and state governments could realize through the legalization of the product and the resulting taxes.
Oakland, CA has taken a step in what I consider to be the right direction and moved to tax medical marijuana. In fact, it is the medical dispensaries who really moved to tax themselves for the benefit of their community. I can only hope that the movement grows, and our state and federal governments come to their senses and allow the cultivation of marijuana to become an asset, rather than throwing tax dollars down the drain fighting it.
I grew up during the 1970s and 1980s. During this time, I have seen people use and abuse many different drugs. From alcohol to acid, cocaine to crank, marijuana to "shrooms," I have seen individuals of all ages abuse drugs. I was a recreational marijuana smoker during most of my teens and continued until I was married. I drank like a fish during this time. I experimented with various recreational drugs, and never really found anything that I really enjoyed, or felt compelled to use.
Out of everything I experienced, by far the drug that I saw do the most damage was the one drug that is legal in the United States, and that is alcohol. In high school, a very good friend of mine was convicted of manslaughter after he lost control of his car while drinking and his girlfriend lost her life. My mother died as a direct result of alcohol abuse when I was 22. My ex-husband lost his job and custody of our children due to alcohol abuse. I have several aunts and uncles who are alcoholics. There was a point in my life I nearly became one. I can say from experience, walking away from alcohol was 100 times harder than walking away from marijuana.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.