How to Get Weed in California
As of March 2019, obtaining marijuana legally in California is in a state of flux. Although it is now legal for adults to consume marijuana for recreation, the only legal place to purchase it is still from medical marijuana dispensaries. To do that, you will need a doctor’s written recommendation. Getting a medical marijuana ID card isn’t strictly necessary, but it’s still a good idea to have some government-issued proof of your eligibility to make interactions with police run a bit smoother. However, adults 21 and over will soon be able to buy it without a recommendation starting in 2019.
Becoming Eligible for Medical Marijuana
Weigh your options.Understand that California allows the use of medical marijuana to treat any condition if the patient finds relief in it and a doctor recommends its use. However, keep in mind that doctors are not required to recommend it just because the patient believes that it will provide relief. Depending on the attitude of your primary care physician, you can also consider obtaining a recommendation from:
- A brick-and-mortar medical marijuana evaluation center.
- An online medical marijuana evaluation service.
Ask for a recommendation from your primary care giver.Make an appointment with your doctor. Discuss medical marijuana as a possible option to treat whatever condition you might have. Since California doesn’t limit which conditions are applicable, don’t feel like you need to fake an illness that you don’t have (and thus ruin your credibility with your doctor). When approaching the subject, keep in mind that:
- There's nothing wrong with posing the question, so don't feel guilty. Be straightforward with your interest and why you think you might benefit from it.
- Not all doctors may be personally familiar about how marijuana relates to your particular situation. Bring along any research that you've found regarding how marijuana may benefit your specific condition if needed.
- Many established physicians are reluctant and often refuse to give out recommendations. If they don’t seem willing to write you one, don’t force the issue. Preserve your relationship with your doctor.
Visit a medical marijuana evaluation center if necessary.If your primary doctor isn’t willing to write you a recommendation, don’t worry; they don’t have the final word. As an alternative, search online for an evaluation center in your area. Visit them as you would with your normal doctor, except here the primary focus is whether or not marijuana is a viable option for your treatment (as opposed to just one of many possibilities). However:
- These centers often range pretty widely in terms of quality care and service. Compare customer reviews online for any that you might be considering.
- Don’t treat evaluation centers as a substitute for your primary doctor. Although some may be on par with “legitimate” doctor’s offices, others may operate according to much lower standards.
Seek a recommendation online for convenience.If you’re unable to find a brick-and-mortar evaluation center that you’re comfortable with (or if you’d just rather not leave the house at all), search online for a web-based evaluation center. Sign up for their service and fill out their online forms when prompted. Then talk with one of their doctors via phone or video to discuss marijuana as a possible treatment.
- If approved, they’ll send you two recommendations: an electronic one that you can print out and use that day if needed, plus your official written copy through the mail for long-term use.
Remember to renew.Regardless of which method you choose to obtain a doctor’s recommendation, keep in mind that it doesn’t last forever. Expect it to expire within one year. For longer treatment, repeat whichever method you’re most comfortable with each year.
Find a licensed dispensary.Search online for nearby medical marijuana dispensaries. Confirm that they have been licensed by California’s Bureau of Marijuana Control (formerly the Bureau for Medical Cannabis Regulation). Bring your doctor’s written recommendation with you to prove that you are eligible.
- You do not need a medical marijuana ID card in order to purchase medical marijuana.
Obtaining a Medical Marijuana ID Card
Fill out an application.Visit the California Department of Public Health’s website. Download and print out the application/renewal form for the Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC). Fill the form out in full with all required information.
- Both English and Spanish versions can be found here:
Gather all other necessary documentation.Make a copy of your doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana as a treatment. Obtain a current, valid, government-issued ID (such as a driver’s license or non-driver ID card) if you don’t already have one. Then choose any one of the following to show as further proof of your residence within the county:
- Your vehicle’s registration with California’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
- Your mortgage agreement if you own your home.
- Your rental lease if you are a tenant.
- A utility bill in your name.
Contact your county’s medical marijuana program (MMP).This will most likely be part of your county’s Department of Public Health or equivalent office. Search the CDPH’s website for the address, business hours, and phone number for your county’s program. Call ahead to see if they accept walk-ins or if you’ll need to make an appointment. Also ask how much they charge for the processing fee, since this may vary by county.
- You have to apply through the MMP in the same county where you live. This means that you’ll still have to go to your own county’s MMP even if another county’s office happens to be closer to you.
- Each county’s MMP can be found here: .
Submit your application.Visit your county’s MMP in person. Bring your application, other documentation, and enough money to cover the processing fee. Your MMIC will be a photo ID, but don’t worry about bringing a picture of yourself, since the office will photograph you themselves.
Acquiring Marijuana for Recreation
Be of legal age.Understand that using marijuana for recreational purposes is now legalized in California, but not for everyone. Expect the same age restrictions enforced with alcohol to be applied here. If you are 21 or older, feel free to enjoy, but if you’re younger than that, expect the following penalties:
- A 0 fine for possession of any amount if you are between 18 and 21.
- Court-ordered counseling or community service for possession if you are under 18.
Grow your own.Although consuming recreational marijuana is now legal, expect to wait until 2019 before you can purchase it legally. In the meantime, feel free to grow up to six plants on your own. If you grow them outside, do so in an enclosed area to restrict access. Either way, be sure to:
- Check both your county and town’s laws regarding growing before you start. Be aware that local governments are allowed to establish further restrictions, such as prohibiting outdoor growing altogether.
Purchase legal amounts from legal vendors.Remember: just because recreational use and sales are now becoming legal doesn’t mean that buying an eighth from that dude in the park is now legal, too. As businesses begin to open, be sure to only purchase from those licensed by California’s Bureau of Marijuana Control. Keep your purchases to an ounce or under.
- Possession of more than an ounce will result in a 0 fine even if you’re 21 or over.
- Local governments may also require businesses to obtain further licensing to operate legally.
If I am from another state, can I get weed in California?
Video: My first legal pot purchase in CA since legalization. What to expect inside
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