In November 2016’s general election, 4 new states voted to legalize recreational cannabis. Before legalizing recreational cannabis, each of these states had something in common. They all had legal medical cannabis programs. But if you live in one of these states, don’t toss your medical card in the recycling bin just yet. Or if you’re excited to travel to these states to enjoy recreational weed, make sure you know how to get your card. That’s because due to the technicalities of the laws voters approved in November, you’ll still need your medical card until 2018 (at least).
Here’s Why You Still Need A Medical Card
Maine and Massachusetts in the east, and Nevada and California in the west passed adult use cannabis laws last year. Some of those laws went into effect in January 2017. Others won’t fully roll out until 2018.
But because of the ways these laws go into effect, you’ll still need your medical card for the near future.
Take the state of California as an example. With one of the oldest medical cannabis programs in the country, it’s currently fairly easy and cheap to become a registered medical cannabis patient. With California’s passing of Proposition 64 last year, recreational cannabis became legal in 2017.
The catch, however, is that medical weed dispensaries won’t be able to sell cannabis to recreational users until 2018. In other words, shops won’t sell to you without your medical card. It’s illegal for them to do so.
The same is the case in Nevada, where shops will have to apply for licenses to sell in 2018. Massachusetts lawmakers have delayed the sale of recreational weed for at least a year.
So until those states allow dispensaries to sell to anyone over the age of 21, you’ll definitely need your medical card to buy weed.
And the same is true of any medical cannabis delivery services in these states; you’ll need your medical card. Furthermore, this reality is likely to be the case for any medical-legal state that happens to legalize recreational in the future.
Why You Won’t Need Your Medical Card When Recreational Weed Is Legal
In states where weed is legal for recreational use but isn’t yet sold, things are much simpler and easier for anyone in possession or growing.
In California, it’s totally legal to possess cannabis in any form, smoke it in private, and gift it to other people. Adults are also able to grow up to 6 marijuana plants on their private residence.
And that’s one reason you won’t need your medical card when recreational weed is legal. If you get stopped with weed on you, you won’t need your card to prove you’re a patient. If you’re over 21 and fall within the legal limits set by the law, you’ll be fine without it.
More Reasons To Keep Your Medical Card Even When Recreational Weed Is Legal
Eventually, recreational legalization will make carrying a medical card obsolete for most users. However, there are still some situations, beyond buying weed, worth hanging on to your medical card for.
If you plan to travel with cannabis, having a medical card can ease your time through security. Many people wonder whether they are allowed to fly with medical cannabis. TSA has even caused some confusion over this issue after recreational legalization.
In states where medical and recreational marijuana is legal, like California, passengers traveling with weed aren’t likely to face a hassle. You’re especially good to go if you’re flying within the state or arriving at another non-prohibition state.
Nevertheless, TSA is a federal agency. Their website acknowledged that TSA agents aren’t looking for marijuana. But if they find any, it’s official policy to report it to law enforcement.
In this case, having your medical card could help you out of a jam. You have a better chance of getting a pass to travel with your weed, or dispose of it without issue if you’re a medical patient just trying to travel with your meds.
An up-to-date card might also help you in the workplace. Unfortunate as it is, medical marijuana users are a bit more “legitimate” in many people’s minds than mere recreational users. Hanging on to your card might be a good idea.
So in the end, even though recreational weed is legal, it’ll be worth it to hang on to your medical card. At least, that is, until dispensaries are selling to anyone over 21. At that point, you can keep your card as a relic of a bygone age.
It’s The Recommendation Letter That Counts
An important note to readers. A “medical card” is just a more portable, and purely cosmetic, version of the patient’s recommendation letter. You become an official medical marijuana patient when a certified physician issues you a legal recommendation letter. In rec-legal states, it’s very easy to get your hands on one of these.