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Can I Use My Arizona Medical Marijuana Card in California?

Arizona and California are only separated by a state line, but different internal medical marijuana laws mean that enjoying the same privileges on the other side might not be as simple as you'd think.

To use your medical marijuana card outside your state of residence, that state must have a medical marijuana program and offer medical marijuana reciprocity to cardholders from other states. If you're an Arizona medical marijuana card holder who’s planning to travel to California, understanding the laws will help you make the most of your trip.

Out-Of-State Patients Aren't Recognized in California

While Arizona does accept out-of-state medical marijuana cards under certain conditions for visiting qualifying patients, California does not. That means that MMJ patients under 21 from Arizona can't just show up with their cards and purchase medical marijuana in CA, and legal-age patients can't purchase medical marijuana tax-free.

There are two main options if you have an Arizona medical marijuana card and plan to visit California:

  1. Purchase recreational marijuana (if eligible)

  2. Get a California medical marijuana identification card (MMIC) if you’re planning to remain in the state long-term and establish residency

California Recreational Marijuana Limits

Adults aged 21 and above can purchase cannabis in California with a government-issued ID as proof of age. The adult-use purchase and possession limits in California are:

  • Up to one ounce of cannabis flower (equal to 28.5 grams)

  • Up to 8 grams of cannabis concentrates

On top of the cost of cannabis flower, concentrates, and topicals, recreational cannabis customers pay a 15% sales tax on the gross price, from which California medical marijuana patients are exempt. If you're at least 21 and you don’t mind paying the 15% sales tax, you can go ahead and enjoy legal cannabis without worrying about getting a California medical cannabis card.

California Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC)

If you’re planning to stay in the Golden State for an extended period of time, it might be worth establishing residency. As a legal California resident, you can join CA’s medical marijuana program and enjoy all the benefits. For instance, per Health and Safety Code Section 11362.77, CA medical patients can:

  • Legally purchase medical marijuana without paying sales tax

  • Legally possess up to eight ounces of dried cannabis flower

  • Grow up to six mature cannabis plants or 12 immature cannabis plants

How to Apply for a California Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC)

Under the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, patients with serious or terminal conditions can obtain a medical marijuana card with a physician's recommendation. According to Senate Bill 94 (Chapter 27, Statutes of 2017), a serious condition in CA includes:

  • AIDS

  • Anorexia

  • Arthritis

  • Cachexia (wasting syndrome)

  • Cancer

  • Chronic pain

  • Glaucoma

  • Migraine

  • Persistent muscle spasms

  • Seizures

  • Severe nausea

  • and "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 federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, or if not alleviated, may cause serious harm to the person's safety, physical, or mental health"

While the state's medical marijuana program is overseen by the California Department of Public Health, qualifying patients need to apply in person at their local county where they will have their picture taken and pay the fee (the fee for a MMIC may not exceed $100). After lodging your application, it can take up to 35 days until you will receive your card, which is valid for one year.

Where You Can Consume Cannabis in California

Whether you decide to go the recreational marijuana route or get an MMIC, you must follow all of the applicable rules when purchasing, growing, or consuming cannabis in CA:

  • Consuming marijuana is allowed on private property as long as the landowner agrees.

  • Consuming marijuana is not allowed in public places like restaurants or bars.

  • You are not allowed to consume cannabis in places where it's not legal to smoke tobacco.

  • You are not allowed to consume cannabis within 1,000 feet of a day care center, school, or youth center while minors are present.

  • If you want to turn cannabis flower into an extract, you can't use volatile solvents like butane or propane.

  • It is federally illegal to consume marijuana on federal land (such as national parks and monuments) and to transport marijuana over state lines.

Please note that specific cities and counties may have rules that are stricter than the state-based cannabis laws. It's best to check with your local office to find out what you can and can't do.

Find out about Medical Marijuana Reciprocity Before Travel and Make Plans for the Best Possible Stay

If you are suffering from a serious or terminal condition, the majority of states now offer medical marijuana programs or MMJ reciprocity agreements to help you find relief. And while the qualifying conditions for each state do vary, there is often a clause that allows a physician to recommend cannabis if they believe it would help.

When purchasing recreational or medical cannabis in another state, always be sure to find out the local laws and stay within the possession limits.


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