In 1996, California made history by passing the Compassionate Use Act, known as Proposition 215, which made medical marijuana legal in the state. As of 2016, recreational cannabis is also legal in California. While cannabis is legal for adults over the age of 21, those below the age requirements who need medical cannabis to treat conditions do not have access under the recreational rules.

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Also, those needing cannabis for medical reasons will find their insurance does not cover recreational cannabis purchases. Begging many to answer the question, "how do I get a medical card in California?" If you’re under the age of 21, you can still use cannabis with a medical marijuana card, but you’ll need a primary caregiver to access it.

Primary caregivers must be over the age of 18 and “both the patient and the primary caregiver must provide certain personal information to the county program” to qualify. Even if you’re not under 21, there are other reasons to obtain a medical marijuana card in a legal recreational state. If cannabis helps with a medical condition, you can save money by purchasing it with a state-issued medical marijuana card because you’ll be exempt from the state’s sales tax.

Qualifying conditions for getting a medical marijuana card in California

Before applying for a medical marijuana card, it’s important to make sure you have a condition that qualifies. If you do not meet the requirements, you will not receive a recommendation from a doctor. Qualifying conditions include:

  • Anorexia
  • Arthritis
  • Cachexia
  • Chronic Pain
  • Glaucoma
  • Migraine
  • Persistent Muscle Spasms
  • Severe Nausea
  • Seizures
  • “Any debilitating illness where the medical use of marijuana has been ‘deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician’”

With the last qualifying condition, there is some potential to qualify for a medical card even if you don’t have a condition on the list. If you have a condition you feel could be improved by the use of cannabis, you can set up a consultation with a doctor and see if they would also recommend it. If so, you qualify for a medical marijuana card.

How to quickly obtain a medical marijuana card in California

There are multiple ways to get a medical marijuana card California, and over time it’s become even easier. There are numerous websites with programs that allow you to register and access a medical marijuana card in just a few minutes. The process generally is the same for all services. Find a reputable online service, such as NuggMD, fill out the application, and connect with a doctor for a consultation.

Every service functions a little differently, but generally, you can end up with a medical marijuana card the same day, assuming you’re eligible. With Nugg, you only have to pay for the service if you are qualified for a medical marijuana card. The consultation is free otherwise.

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You should receive a medical marijuana card electronically right after being approved and a physical copy should arrive within a few days. Once you’ve received the electronic card, you can start purchasing medical marijuana.

How to obtain a medical marijuana card the conventional way

It’s easy to obtain a medical marijuana card in the state of California using the internet. However, if you want to take the traditional route, you still can. If you’re 18 or older, you can schedule an appointment with a physician to check your eligibility. If you’re under 18, you’ll need a parent or guardian to join you. Be sure to bring your identification as well as proof of residency for California.

Of course, be sure to check that you also have a qualifying condition before setting up an appointment. Once you’ve obtained a doctor’s recommendation, you can fill out an application form. You’ll then need to go to your county health department to apply in person. Again, be sure to bring identification and proof of residency. It can take some time to have your application approved using this method. Expect to wait up to a month before receiving a valid medical marijuana card.

If you are not approved using this method, application fees cannot be refunded and you will not be able to reapply for six months.

How much does it cost to get a medical marijuana card in California?

The cost of getting a medical card in California varies. If you’re using the quick method where you apply and have a consultation online, you’ll pay a flat fee, either upon applying or receiving approval. These costs typically range between $35 and $50 but can vary.

If you’re going to visit a doctor and receive a recommendation in person, the cost will vary based on your doctor of choice and insurance policy. The application fee will vary as well. Proposition 64 requires counties to establish their own application fees so there is not one universal cost to apply. You’ll need to contact your county to verify the application price.

Final thoughts on obtaining a medical marijuana card in California

California makes it easy to obtain a medical marijuana card these days. There is the option of scheduling an appointment, visiting a doctor, receiving a recommendation, and then applying through the state, but you don’t have to go that route anymore.

For quicker access to a medical marijuana card, prospective patients can apply through online services that connect patients to licensed physicians. Doctors can offer a recommendation online and patients can have a valid electronic card the same day. If you don’t have a medical condition listed on the qualifying conditions list, you can still set up a consultation and see if the physician recommends the use of cannabis to help. If so, you can get a medical marijuana card from their recommendation.