Medical vs. Recreational Prices in Arizona Explained

The main difference between medical and recreational cannabis prices in Arizona is that recreational customers pay a higher tax rate. In AZ, medical marijuana patients pay 16% less for marijuana compared to recreational marijuana customers because they are exempt from paying the excise tax that's applied to recreational sales.


Medical marijuana patients still pay local taxes (most states tax medical marijuana to some extent). However, these taxes don’t go much higher than 8%. If you spend just $20 per week on cannabis and have a qualifying condition, you will save money with a medical card.


Cost Breakdown for Medical Cards

The cost of a medical marijuana card can vary, and there are generally two or three fees involved:

  • Arizona's application fee (currently $150—or $75 for SNAP recipients)

  • The doctor visit fee (usually between $100 and $200)

  • A physical exam fee if needed (cost varies but may be under $100)

Assuming you pay $295 - $345 every two years to have a medical marijuana card, the card pays for itself in tax savings if you spend an average of $90 at dispensaries each month.


Here's the breakdown of the math:


$90 x 16% = $14.4 x 24 months = $345.60


Now, if you spend $200 per month on marijuana, the card will save you $768 over two years, comparing the total prices that medical and recreational customers would pay.


Other Ways You Can Save Money as a Medical Marijuana Patient

As you can see from the math above, a medical marijuana card pays for itself. However, in addition to saving on the excise tax, there are other differences between medical vs. recreational weed prices in Arizona that you can gain access to when you join Arizona's medical marijuana program.


New Patient Deals

New patients are eligible for new patient deals at dispensaries. These are usually Buy One Get One Free (BOGO) deals on products like flower and pre-rolls that aren't available to recreational marijuana customers.


Patient-Only Discounts

Many dispensaries also offer weekly specials and vendor days that are limited to medical marijuana cardholders. Look for "medical discount" in each dispensary's list of discounts and deals to see how much you could save.


Free Marijuana

The state of Arizona also allows dispensaries to give a certain amount of free marijuana to medical patients. To qualify for such programs, you will need to show a valid medical marijuana card and be under your two-week limit.


Other Differences Between Medical and Recreational Marijuana Prices and Laws

Aside from financial savings, there are additional reasons why qualifying patients should still get a medical marijuana card now that Arizona has legalized marijuana:

  • Higher potency. Recreational cannabis sales are limited to 10 mg of THC per serving, whereas there is no limit on the potency of medical cannabis. Medications like tinctures and topicals that contain THC are difficult or impossible to find if you are not a medical patient.

  • Higher purchase limits. Recreational marijuana customers can only purchase up to one ounce of usable marijuana, whereas medical marijuana patients can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. If you regularly spend money on bus fares, taxis, or even gas, this higher limit could help you save.

  • Home delivery. Medical marijuana patients can purchase products online and have them delivered to their home address, whereas recreational customers have to visit the dispensary. Delivery is often free if you spend a certain minimum amount, and you might get a free gift, too!

  • Legal protections. Being a qualified patient under the medical program offers you certain legal protections when it comes to housing and employment. Your medical marijuana card may help you protect your income and your home (limitations apply). In addition, reciprocity in other medical marijuana states is often available, so you may be able to access and consume cannabis in certain other states where recreational sales aren’t available.

How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card

If you have a qualifying condition, getting a medical marijuana card in Arizona is as simple as booking an in-person or telemedicine appointment with a medical marijuana doctor, applying for your card online through the Arizona Department of Health Services website, and paying the necessary fees. Your card should be ready in 5 business days or less, and you can either download the digital card onto a mobile device or print it out.


As soon as your digital card is ready, you can start enjoying the full benefits by ordering online or visiting a licensed dispensary. And as you’ve seen here, the savings really do add up.

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