A medical marijuana (MMJ) card is a state-released identification card that enables a patient with a doctor’s recommendation to acquire, own or cultivate cannabis for medicinal use. These cards are released by a state or country where medical cannabis is recognized.
Medical marijuana use in Arizona has been legal since 2010, when Proposition 203 to enact the Arizona Medical AMrijuana Act (AMMA) was approved by 203 voters. The AZDHS, or Arizona Department of Health Services, was assigned by the act to regulate medical marijuana in the state.
All medical marijuana patients in Arizona must own a valid and unexpired medical marijuana card to use marijuana medically rather than recreationally.
To get an Arizona MMJ cards, you must be diagnosed with at least one of the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in Arizona. A licensed physician must also assess you to verify the diagnosis and submit a recommendation to the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS) to avail and use medical marijuana.
A patient can buy up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana from any state-licensed dispensary every two weeks and hold up to 2.5 ounces at any time. Possessing more than this amount at any one time, even by a medical marijuana cardholder, is a petty offence in Arizona.
Qualifying Conditions for MMJ Use
Here are the qualifying conditions to get a medical marijuana card.
- Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease
- Any chronic disease or the treatment for one that causes cachexia or wasting syndrome
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Crohn’s disease
- HIV or AIDS
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Persistent or severe muscle spasms, such as those associated with multiple sclerosis
- Seizures, including from epilepsy
- Chronic pain, like those from migraines or arthritis
- Hepatitis C
- Severe nausea
MMJ Use Age Requirements
You can be qualified to use medical marijuana even when you’re a minor, as long as you meet all requirements. Your application must include a valid Arizona state driver’s license or ID card to verify your age and Arizona residency.
You will need a legal guardian over 18 years old when you are younger than 18 to be registered as your medical marijuana caregiver. As your caregiver, this guardian will acquire medical marijuana from licensed dispensaries on your behalf.
You will also have to pay a fee for your card, which will depend on your medical-related memberships, if it’s for renewal, if you need to make changes to your card information or if you have a caregiver registered.
Receiving Your MMJ Card
All Arizona medical marijuana cards are digital. You can download your card to your phone, tablet or other mobile devices to show to any law enforcement officer or at any licensed dispensary for you to be recognized as a registered medical marijuana patient in Arizona.
MMJ Card Renewals
A medical marijuana card expires after two years in Arizona. Before your MMJ card expires, you must renew it. You must attend another doctor’s visit for an updated recommendation and pay another fee. The price for the doctor’s appointment and payment for the MMJ card renewal are usually lower than those for the initial visit and card. If your Arizona medical marijuana card expires, you must start the process from the very beginning.
Other Things You Have to Know
Medical marijuana patients pay only state and local taxes but are exempt from excise tax. In contrast, an excise tax of 16% is added to all recreational marijuana purchases in addition to state and local taxes. This amounts to approximately 8% in taxes for medical marijuana purchases at current tax rates.
Due to the state’s high demand for legal marijuana, most Arizona dispensaries provide separate lines for medical and recreational customers, reducing the wait time considerably for medical marijuana patients. However, no state laws or rules require that dispensaries create different lines.