Getting an mmj card in Arizona is a simple, but pricey process. The cost of obtaining one is worth the peace of mind, though. If you’re caught with cannabis but don’t have a medical marijuana card, you could serve years in prison and pay thousands of dollars for it.
Qualifying for an MMJ Card
If you have one of the following conditions, you may be eligible to participate in Arizona’s medical marijuana program:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
- Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
- Hepatitis C
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Crohn's Disease
- Agitation of Alzheimer's disease
- A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or the treatment for a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that causes:
- Cachexia or wasting syndrome;
- Severe and chronic pain;
- Severe nausea;
- Seizures, including those characteristics of epilepsy;
- Severe or persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis
If your medical condition is not listed, Arizona’s law allows patients to make written requests to add conditions. These requests are accepted each year in January and July.
How to find a physician
Doctors in Arizona do not have to provide medical marijuana certifications. They can use their discretion to opt-in or out of the program. Arizona doesn’t have a list of doctors who provide certifications, so you will have to find one on your own. Any physician that obtains one of the following valid Arizona licenses can write you a certification:
- Allopathic (MD)
- Osteopathic (DO)
- Homeopathic [MD(H) or DO(H)]
- Naturopathic (NMD or ND)
A search online or in the local newspaper will help you find doctors advertising this service. We recommend an online service like Veriheal since they will deal with all of the annoying paperwork and legalese. The doctor must have a physician-patient relationship with you. All this means is that you’ve had an official appointment with them. During this appointment, the doctor will conduct a physical exam, make or confirm a diagnosis of a debilitating medical condition, review your medical history, and talk to you about the benefits and risks of medical marijuana.
Does it matter if there are no medical records of my illness?
If you don’t have a medical record on the condition you want to treat, you can still get a card. You’ll just have to take a few extra steps. Meet with a doctor who provides certifications for medical marijuana. If possible, that doctor will make the qualifying diagnosis during your appointment. If they don’t have the expertise to do this, the doctor may refer you to a specialist who can. Each doctor visit may cost $100-$200.
How to apply
The Arizona Department of Health only accepts online applications. There is no paper application, and you can’t submit an application in person. Most patients don’t worry about this, though, because it’s common practice for your certifying doctor to submit the application during your evaluation appointment. That is even more likely if you go to a clinic that specializes in providing medical marijuana evaluations. The doctor will certify your qualifying medical condition, take your picture, and submit it along with other required documents, including ones you’ve signed confirming your commitment not to abuse or sell medical marijuana.
How much will the medical marijuana card cost?
Unfortunately, $20 won’t get you very far in the process. An initial or renewal medical card costs $150. Patients who are enrolled in SNAP may be eligible to pay the discounted fee of $75. These costs are in addition to whatever fee your doctor requires for the written certification. If you needed the doctor to make rather than just confirm a diagnosis, you probably had to pay an additional fee. The good news? The cards are valid for two years. It’s expensive, but not as expensive as a conviction for illegal possession.
How long will it take to get my card?
While it’s possible to have an mmj card delivered in less than five days, don’t expect a 24-hour turnaround. It can take up to ten business days after the application is received for a patient to receive their ID card according to the Arizona Department of Health.
How do I designate a caregiver?
You can choose to have one designated caregiver during the online application process. This person will be authorized to help you with purchasing and administering your cannabis medicine. A caregiver must be a person who is over 21 years old and who does not have an excluded felony offense. The caregiver can complete their application after you have designated them in yours. Your caregiver will receive a medical marijuana card once their application has been approved. They will be able to make cannabis purchases on your behalf once they receive their card. The caregiver is responsible for paying the mandatory background check, application, and renewal fees.
Where can I buy medical marijuana in Arizona?
The only legal place to purchase medical marijuana is from a licensed dispensary. You can buy up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis every 2 weeks.
Can I grow my own?
If you live 25 miles or more away from a dispensary, you can grow your cannabis. You will know if you are authorized to grow cannabis or not because your medical marijuana card will tell you. The law allows you to grow up to 12 plants, but only if you meet the distance requirement away from a dispensary. Your cannabis garden must be grown in an enclosed, locked facility like a closet, greenhouse, or room.