How Can I Legally Get Medical Marijuana?

Many medical professionals and patients recognize the medicinal benefits of marijuana. Unfortunately, lawmakers are far behind the science. Fortunately, more states are now passing bills to allow for the medical use of marijuana for qualified patients. If you have a condition that you believe could benefit from using pot, look into getting a medical marijuana card or legal prescription from your doctor if your state allows it.

Which States Allow Medical Cannabis?

As of early 2021, 36 states and the District of Columbia have approved medical marijuana programs. State medical marijuana laws vary greatly, and under federal law, marijuana possession is still a crime. The states that allow medical marijuana in some form include:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Washington, D.C.
  • West Virginia

Qualifying Conditions

The laws vary by state, with some states only allowing medicinal marijuana for a very limited set of qualifying conditions. Some of the more common qualifying medical conditions for a medical marijuana card include:

  • HIV/AIDS
  • Anorexia
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Glaucoma
  • Migraines
  • Seizures
  • Muscle spasms
  • Cachexia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
  • Severe nausea
  • Wasting syndrome

Process for Getting a Medical Marijuana Card

The process for getting a medical marijuana card or cannabis prescription varies by state. Check your state’s medical marijuana program to make sure you qualify. The process generally involves:

  • Having a qualifying medical condition
  • Referral or recommendation from a doctor or healthcare provider
  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of residency in the state

Some states recognize medical marijuana cards from other states and others do not. Make sure you are aware of what the laws are before you cross state lines with your medical marijuana.

Once you have a medical marijuana card, your state may still limit the amount of marijuana you can possess at any time. Most states set their limits by ounces or grams of usable marijuana or days of supply. States that allow patients to grow their own marijuana may also set a limit on the number of mature plants you can have at one time.

California Medical Marijuana Card Program

California was the first state to legalize medical cannabis in 1996. The state’s Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC) is available through county offices. If you want a card, you need to fill out an application with the following documentation:

  • Copy of medical recommendation
  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of residency

An application takes up to 35 days to process. A card is valid for up to a year, and you must renew it annually. Once you have a card, it allows for the possession and use of medical marijuana and allows you to grow a limited number of pot plants. You can also buy medical cannabis products from dispensaries without having to pay sales tax or use tax.

Penalties for Having Medical Marijuana Without a Card

If you live in a state that allows medicinal marijuana but not recreational marijuana, possession of cannabis without a prescription may lead to criminal charges. Many states have “decriminalized” the possession of small amounts of marijuana, meaning you may receive the equivalent of a traffic ticket. In some states, marijuana possession is still a misdemeanor. That means a conviction could mean a punishment of up to a year in jail and a fine.

States With Recreational Pot Laws

In an increasing number of states, individuals over the age of 21 can purchase, possess, and use marijuana for recreational use. Many people still use recreational marijuana to treat medical conditions, but the recreational laws allow them access to pot without having to get a medical marijuana card. Recreational pot laws still generally limit the amount that you can have and where you can consume pot.

Some states have passed legislation for legal recreational pot but the laws have not yet gone into effect. Some of the states that have passed recreational marijuana laws include:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Washington, D.C.

Lawyer Defense Strategies for Pot Crimes

The police may still try and arrest you for marijuana possession even if you legally can buy marijuana in your state. A criminal defense attorney can discuss your options with you for building a defense.

Speak to an Experienced Medical Marijuana Attorney Today

This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified medical marijuana lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local medical marijuana attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.

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