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Who can get a medical marijuana card in California? What medical conditions qualify?

Under the California Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (Section 11362.5 of the Health and Safety Code) "....Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes where that medical use is deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician who has determined that the person's health would benefit from the use of marijuana in the treatment of cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief."   

Thus, a "qualified medical marijuana patient" is a patient with any of the conditions specifically listed in the law (cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticiy, glaucoma, arthritis, or migrane) who has obtained a doctor's recommendation for medical marijuana.  However, because the law also provides that medical marijuana may be recommended by a physician to treat "any other illness for which marijuana provides relief," there may be a variety of other illnesses or conditions for which a doctor might "deem appropriate" for the use of medical marijuana. 

Either a written or verbal recommendation from a physician will suffice to prove that a patient is qualified for medical marijuana, however patients who carry written proof are better protected from arrest because it gives law enforcement the ability to easily verify that the person is authorized to use, possess, and transport medical marijuana. The next best forms of proof are a city- or county-issued patient identification card, or a written recommendation from a physician.


As far as the process is concerned, qualified patients can apply for a California Medical Marijuana identification card, by submitting an "Application/Renewal Form" (CDPH 9042) to their local California Department of Public Health office along with the following information:  (1) A government-issued photo identification card (such as a driver's license or a passport); (2) two items proving California residency, such as a driver's license with current address, current California motor vehicle registration showing name/current address, or even a rent/mortgage receipt or utility bill showing name/current address; and (3) Documentation of the patient's qualifying medical condition and the name/license number of the applicant's physician so that the government agency can verify the information.  (The physician can use CDPH Form 9044 "Written Documentation of Patient's Medical Records").  The applicant must also ensure that their authorization for the release of medical information is on file with their medical provider or else the physician will not be able to verify it with the agency. 

The identification card will be list the patient's name, the name of the county health department that approved the application, the card expiration date, and a unique identification number, which is used by law enforcement officers to quickly verify the cardholder’s identity. 

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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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