With the passage of Prop. 64, many cannabis consumers no longer see the necessity of obtaining a doctor’s recommendation for a product that they can now acquire simply because they have reached the age of 21 years. But foregoing a doctor’s recommendation may not be the best course of action, as there are many benefits for possessing a medical cannabis recommendation that are unavailable to those who do not have one.
Cannabis is inordinately expensive, making it likely that many people cannot afford all the cannabis products that they would like to get their hands on. Cultivating your own cannabis plants is the only viable way to significantly reduce this cost. With Prop. 64 imposing a six plant limit for recreational consumers and further restricting households to only six plants, no matter how many people 21 and over are living there, it is unlikely those looking to save some money will be able to grow enough.
A medical cannabis patient in California can cultivate as many plants as medically necessarily and are not restricted to only six plants per household. Both recreational and medical consumers can keep as much cannabis at home as they can harvest, but recreational consumers can only leave home with one ounce in their possession, while medical consumers can walk out-the-door with up to eight ounces.
In recreational states like California, it remains illegal for those under 21 to consume and possess cannabis. With no age restriction, a doctor’s recommendation can help adult consumers of all ages. Although no one can escape state and local excise taxes, a medical consumer with a medical cannabis ID card obtained from their local county health department will not have to pay sales taxes. A few cities like Berkeley and Oakland have lower excise taxes for medical cannabis patients.
When driving, many states’ vehicle codes make it illegal to have any loose cannabis or a receptacle “which has been opened or has a seal broken.” Any opened container must be kept in the trunk. While loose cannabis is still verboten, medical consumers can have their cannabis in the seat next to them and comply with the law simply by capping the bottle, closing the box and zipping closed the baggy.
For consumers with children, especially those who are cultivating their own cannabis, a doctor’s recommendation is as beneficial as a marriage license. Prop. 64 prevents Child Protective Services from citing medical cannabis consumption as grounds for taking children from their parents. Recreational consumers do not have that protection allowing CPS to cite cannabis consumption as one of the reasons they can remove children from a home.
When traveling to other states, having a doctor’s recommendation will allow cannabis consumption in Arizona, Maine, Michigan and Rhode Island. While those states have not yet legalized cannabis, their cannabis laws have reciprocity which recognize another state’s doctor’s recommendations. Note that some of those states may have fewer recognized medical conditions for the use of cannabis, so although Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder may be an acceptable condition in California, it might not be acceptable in another state.
Finding cannabis will be easier for medicinal consumers, with many dispensaries still only serving medical cannabis patients. This number will likely continue to dwindle as more dispensaries are permitted to serve both recreational and medical consumers, depending on the state.
Since most people’s health benefits from the use of cannabis, it remains relatively easy to renew or obtain a medical cannabis recommendation. The extra cost and time is well worth it.