On the eve of ‘legalization’ in California, Laurie Vollen, MD, reviewed her patients’ options:

As most of you know, the November, 2016 passage of Proposition 64 has created a whole new legal framework for non-medicinal cannabis use which will dramatically change the entire landscape of Cannabis in California.

Most significantly, beginning in 2018, adult use (commonly called “recreational “) dispensaries will open in cities that have chosen to authorize recreational dispensary sales. Recreational dispensaries will allow anyone age 21 years or older to purchase products.

So, you may be wondering if YOU should renew your medical marijuana recommendation. To help you figure out what IS best for you, Naturally Healing MD offers this information update on what medical marijuana patients can expect in 2018.

Pros of Renewing

Full implementation of Proposition 64 is going to take months. In the vast majority of the state, local municipalities are still working out local ordinances to allow permitting of dispensaries and cannabis businesses. The state will only allow dispensaries to apply for recreational licensing , once local municipalities issue local permits.

Some cities (e.g., Berkeley and Oakland) have already issued permits and many of their permitted Medical dispensaries are now expected to serve the recreational market as well beginning January 1, 2018. Others (e.g., Los Angeles and San Francisco) are aiming to license recreational dispensaries early in 2018, but just recently passed the ordinances that will govern their cities recreational dispensaries, so have yet to issue permits. And some are taking a wait and see approach.

If access to any dispensary in California is your goal, a medical marijuana recommendation will insure you have access to dispensaries in both the state of California as well as a few other states with reciprocity: (Hawaii, Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, Maine, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New Hampshire). The vast majority of the State will still require a physician recommendation to legally purchase cannabis in early 2018. As time goes on, more and more dispensaries will convert and I expect, by the end of the year, most of the State’s dispensaries will serve both Medical and recreational clients. In addition, new adult use dispensaries will open as municipalities pass ordinances allowing them.

Cost of Marijuana Medicine

Your medicine is going to become more costly in 2018. With the legalization of adult-use cannabis, the city and the state will increase taxes on cannabis sales at all California dispensaries and delivery services. The specific tax increases depends on your city. Harbourside Health Center in Oakland has stated taxes will increase from 14.25% to 34.25%. Proposition 64 exempts medical marijuana patients with a valid medical marijuana recommendation and a State issued card from retail sales tax (about 10%).

The effect on the cost of your medicine might increase dramatically in 2018. If you currently spend about $100/month or more on cannabis products, it is going to be worth your while to obtain a medical marijuana recommendation and then the State card. The State card cost is $100 ($50 for MediCal patients).

To help patients obtain the State card, Naturally Healing MD has scouted out the process and developed a packet to help patients complete the process.The State Card packet includes a guide to the process, the application you must complete in advance, and telephone numbers for the facilities issuing the State card.

The State card also provides extra protection if you are challenged by law enforcement for possessing, growing, or transporting personal use cannabis within the limits authorized by California’s law. It is the only form of identification California police are authorized to accept as confirmation of a valid medical marijuana recommendation.

A State card is also accepted at all California dispensaries as proof of status as a medical marijuana patient.