With Recreational Marijuana Now Legal, Is Getting a Medical Card Worth It? 

After its passage in November of 2020, Arizona’s Proposition 207 officially commenced with the legal sale of recreational marijuana on January 22, 2021. Over a year later, the impact of the legislation on the cannabis industry is unmistakable. The addition of recreational access contributed to cannabis sales generating upwards of $1.2 billion in 2021 alone, with that number expected to rise exponentially in 2022.  

The legalization of recreational marijuana hasn’t only been fortuitous for those in the industry. Cannabis and cannabis-related products have also become easier for patients to obtain, thanks to increased prevalence attributable to widespread recreational availability.  

In the wake of legalization, cannabis culture has become more acceptable at a mainstream level, with consumption-friendly festivals and other events becoming increasingly commonplace, and the last of the outdated tropes, stigmas and stereotypes thankfully falling away. 

Yet, with this abundance of legal cannabis, a valid question has emerged: What should you do about obtaining or renewing your medical card?  

To be fair, with recreational marijuana so plentiful and readily available, the prospect of shelling out $200 dollars for the privilege of being a med patient seems, perhaps, a bit more daunting than in years prior. However, it’s worth considering some of the ways in which medical differs from recreational when choosing which is best for you.  

Medical Patients and Recreational Customers 

From a legal point of view, there are important distinctions between medical and recreational cannabis patrons, including how each is characterized.  

An individual with a medical card, for instance, is considered a patient in the sense that they are acquiring marijuana for medical purposes, as certified by a physician. Meanwhile, consumers buying cannabis under the Prop 207 provision are considered recreational customers because they are not operating under a doctor’s recommendation, and as such, do not fall under the designation of a patient.  

Of course, that’s not to dismiss the possibility that recreational customers are also using cannabis therapeutically. Many people use cannabis for many different reasons, and these distinctions simply help to bifurcate the consumer sections for the purpose of separate regulation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, those regulations vary significantly from patient to customer.  

Excise Tax 

Among the clearest contrasts when it comes to medical and recreational is overall cost.  

If the price tag of a medical card strikes you as something of a dealbreaker, you’re not alone. Given the current rate of inflation and the comparative stagnation of the median income, it is quite reasonable to be conscious of significant financial expenses.  

However, it should be noted that while recreational consumers are beholden to the same 5.6% sales tax as medical patients, they are also on the hook for an additional 16% excise tax. Put simply, depending on individual consumption and shopping habits, a recreational customer could potentially spend an amount comparable to that of the medical card—in taxes alone—in a smaller timeframe than the two-year period during which a medical card is valid.  

Allotment Limits 

Another key difference between medical patients and recreational customers involves the amount of cannabis both are able to purchase. Whereas a medical allotment allows a patient to purchase up to two-and-a-half ounces every two weeks, recreational patients are limited to only one ounce in the same period.  

Dosage Limits 

Depending on what type of cannabis products you prefer, it’s possible that you could encounter further limitations when it comes to the packaging and dosage of a given product.  

If you’re a fan of edibles, for instance, it’s important to know that recreational consumers are limited to a maximum total dosage of 100mg of THC per package, and no more than 10mg per piece, meanwhile, medical patients are held to no such limit.   

Where do you land? 

If you’re still weighing the cost/benefit of having a medical card, there’s one basic thing you should ask yourself. “Do I need to be a medical patient?”  

As the science behind cannabis continues to progress, the list of afflictions for which it can be used as a treatment is constantly growing. As that list grows, so grows the possibility that your particular ailment is one for which cannabis can provide relief. If this is the case, and you are interested in prolonged, continuous treatment, then you may indeed benefit from acquiring a medical card.  

Regardless of what you decide is best for your specific situation, there is good news: whether you’re a recreational customer or a medical patient, there is plenty of marijuana out there waiting for you. In fact, given the abundance of dispensaries in Arizona, chances are high that the cure for what ails you is closer than you think.  

If you are interested in more information about obtaining a medical marijuana card, visit the Marijuana Doctor 

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