The legalization of adult use cannabis in California has brought with it an increase in taxes for both recreational consumers and medical patients alike. Thankfully, if you’re a medical cannabis patient in California you can register for a medical marijuana identification card with the county to save on local tax and sales tax. If you’re like me, you probably have some questions about how to go about obtaining a MMIC and if you even qualify for one—so I decided to give LA County Public Health a call and get some answers, for all of us wondering. Full disclosure, prior to calling I was a little worried about how long I was going to wait to talk to an actual person and if that person was even going to be able to answer my questions. I was very pleasantly surprised when I waited less than 30 seconds before someone picked up the phone and she answered all of my questions in less than 4 minutes! Here’s what I found out.

Do I Qualify For A MMIC?

Individuals who have been diagnosed with a serious medical condition by their attending physician and have on record their doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana qualify for the protections of Prop 215 and SB 420. According to the California Department of Public Health website any of the following qualify as a “serious medical condition” per SB 420: AIDS; anorexia; arthritis; cachexia (wasting syndrome); cancer; chronic pain; glaucoma; migraine; persistent muscle spasms (e.g., spasms associated with multiple sclerosis); seizures (e.g., epileptic seizures); severe nausea; any other chronic or persistent medical symptom that either substantially limits a person’s ability to conduct one or more of major life activities as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, or if not alleviated, may cause serious harm to the person’s safety, physical, or mental health. If you have been diagnosed with any of these conditions by a doctor and have discussed the use of medical marijuana for the condition(s) with a doctor, you are eligible to be a medical cannabis patient in the state of California.

What Do I Need To Bring With Me To My Appointment?

There are a few things you’ll need to bring with you to your appointment for your medical marijuana identification card—Application/Renewal Form (CDPH-9042), a Physician Attestation, Medical documentation or Written Documentation of Patient’s Medical Records (CDPH-9044), Proof of Los Angeles County (or whatever county you’re applying in) Residency (i.e. a utility bill from within the last 2 months), Medical Marijuana Identification Card Acknowledgement, your MMJ recommendation from your doctor, government issued photo identification, original Medi-Cal or Los Angeles County No Cost/Low Cost Health Care Program card (if applicable) and payment in cash, check, cashier’s check or money order payable to “Los Angeles County Department of Public Health”. You can visit the Los Angeles County Public Health website for Medical Marijuana and scroll to the bottom for links to all of these forms—once they’re all filled out you can call (866)-621-2204 M-F from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to schedule your appointment. There are several different locations, so take a look at the website to see which location is most convenient for you! They do accept walk-ins, but only as time allows so I’d definitely recommend making an appointment beforehand to ensure that you get seen in a timely manner.

How Much Will My MMIC Cost?

Fees vary by county. Each County program may charge an amount not to exceed one hundred dollars ($100) per MMIC application or renewal, not to exceed fifty dollars ($50) per card for Medi-Cal eligible applicants, and the fees shall be waved for participants in the County Medical Services Program. Here in Los Angeles a medical marijuana identification card from the county will cost you $100, unless you have Medi-Cal or Los Angeles County No Cost/Low Cost Health Care Program card in which case you’ll receive a discount. When it’s time to renew your MMIC (which you’ll need to do every year), it will cost you the same amount as your initial card. 

What Will The Card Look Like?

How Long Will It Take For Me To Receive My MMIC And How Often Does It Need To Be Renewed?

It may take up to 35 days for your medical marijuana identification card application to be processed. You’ll be contacted when your card is ready to be picked up and you’ll need a government issued photo identification when you go to get it. Just like the medical marijuana recommendation you obtain from your doctor, you’ll need to make an appointment to renew your MMIC once a year. You’ll want to make sure you do this after you’ve visited your doctor to get your recommendation renewed. If your doctor’s recommendation will expire within 35 days of your appointment to get your MMIC, you’ll need to obtain a new recommendation prior to your appointment. 

How Much Will I Save On Taxes With A MMIC?

The exact amount of taxes you’ll save varies based on the county the dispensary is in. Patients with an MMIC in Los Angeles will save 5% on local tax and 9.5% on sales tax for a total of 14.5% in savings! When you visit a dispensary, make sure you show your MMIC to the receptionist and the budtender who helps you so that they make sure you get your discount—their system may require them to input the discount manually, so don’t be shy about showing your card on every visit before your purchase is finalized. Be aware that you will still pay some taxes with an MMIC and that having one does not exempt you from all tax. For example, you’ll see a 5% local tax on your receipt here in Los Angeles and everyone ends up paying the 15% state excise tax via the overall increase in product prices. That being said, 14.5% savings certainly makes a difference—especially for patients who are buying larger quantities of medicine.

Is My Name Going To Be On Some Government List? Will Anyone Be Able To Find Out That I Have A MMIC Through A Background Check?

Like a lot of you, one of my biggest concerns about registering with the county for a MMIC was that my name was going to end up on some list that could potentially cause problems for me down the road. I asked the woman from LA County Public Health and she assured me that all information submitted to them is confidential, as it has to do with patient records, and it isn’t shared with or released to any third party. She also informed me that on the MMIC itself the patient’s name isn’t listed—just a number provided to you when you register and your picture. (Oh yeah, you’ll have to take a picture at your appointment so come prepared to say cheese!) Basically, no one will know that you have a MMIC other than the people that issued it to you and those who you choose to tell about it (including the dispensaries you go to). 

Ready to start the process of getting your medical marijuana identification card from Los Angeles county? Visit the Los Angeles County Public Health website and scroll to the bottom of the page to download the forms you need to fill out prior to scheduling your appointment. If you have more in-depth questions, check out the Los Angeles County Public Health FAQ or the California Department of Public Health MMP FAQ.

Related Articles:

Understanding California Cannabis in 2018,

New Rules For Cannabis Testing in California