How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in California

California Health and Safety Code 11362.5 is better known as Prop. 215, the California Compassionate Use Act (“CUA”).
The CUA was passed into law by voter approval in 1996.1 It allows you to legally possess, cultivate or transport
marijuana in California if:
1. The marijuana is used to treat a serious medical condition2
2. It is for personal medical use only
3. You have the recommendation or approval of a California-licensed physician3

The act also exempts primary caregivers who possess, transport, or cultivate marijuana for the patient’s personal
medical use.

Do I need a California medical marijuana card?
You do not need a medical marijuana identification card (“MMIC”) in order to gain the benefits of Prop. 215.
However, a California medical marijuana card offers protection against arrest to patients and their caregivers.
How does the California medical marijuana program work?
When you receive a MMIC, your unique ID number is entered into a web-based registry.
Law enforcement officials and others can use your number solely to verify the validity of a qualified patient or primary
caregiver’s MMIC.  The registry does not provide them with any personal information.
How do I obtain a medical marijuana card in California?
You must apply for a MMIC in person at the health department of the county in which you live.6 As of July 20014, they
are available in every California county except Sutter and Colusa.
The county offices have different days and hours of operation.  Most require an appointment.  It is recommended that
you call or check the website for your specific county’s program.
What documents do I need to submit with my MMIC application?
You will need to bring with you the following documentation:
1. A copy of your doctor’s recommendation
2. A valid government-issued photo ID (California Driver’s License, California state ID Card, US Passport, or
Veteran’s Administration ID Card)
3. A photo taken at the county’s program office
4. Proof of residency in the county.  The document must show your name and physical address (not a PO box).  The
following are generally accepted:
a. Rent or mortgage agreement
b. Utility or cellular phone bill
c. California DMV motor vehicle registration
d. California voter registration
e. Bank statement
f. Automobile, property, life or health insurance documents
Check with the office in your country to confirm what documents they accept as proof of residency.
How much does a California medical marijuana card cost?
The fee for a MMIC varies by county.   Medi-Cal beneficiaries receive a 50 percent reduction in the application fee, upon
proof of participation in the Medi-Cal Program.
Examples of the full registration fee as of July 2014 include:
Alameda: $103
Fresno: $107
Imperial: $110
Los Angeles: $153
Orange County: $150
Riverside: $153
San Bernardino: $173
San Francisco: $120
San Diego: $166
Santa Barbara: $108
Santa Clara: $150
Ventura: $221
How does a primary caregiver get a California MMIC?
The patient must apply for a primary caregiver card.  It costs the same as a patient MMIC.  Both the patient and the
caregiver must appear at the county office to obtain a primary caregiver MMIC so that the caregiver can be
A primary caregiver card can be obtained separately from a patient MMIC.  It is not necessary to apply for them at the
same time.
What information appears on a California medical marijuana card?
Your MMIC will contain:

  1. Your unique user identification number
  2. The date on which your card expires
  3. The name and telephone number of the county program that approved your application
  4. The internet address for verification of the MMIC’s validity
  5. A photo of you
  6. Whether you are a patient or a primary caregiver

Your medical marijuana ID card will contain your photograph in order to prevent its fraudulent use.  However, it will not
contain your address or phone number, or any other personal information.
Can someone track me down through the California registry?
The California medical marijuana registry does not contain any personal information.  It contains only your unique user
ID number.
When someone enters in your ID number, the only information they will be given is whether or not the number is valid.
No personal information – such as your name, address or social security number – will be provided.  Police, employers
and others cannot track down patients through the registry.
How long does it take to get a California MMIC?
Following receipt of your application and all necessary documentation, the county has 30 days to verify your application.
If any information or documents are missing, you will be contacted within that time.
Once your application has been verified, the county has another five days in which to make your medical marijuana card
available to you.
How long is a California medical marijuana card valid?
MMICs are valid for one year.  They can only be renewed by repeating the application procedure. It will be necessary for
you to obtain new medical documentation, unless the document you have is still valid.  But either way, you will need to
provide it when you apply for renewal.
A primary caregiver card expires when the patient’s card expires, even if that is less than one year from the time it is
Is an MMIC valid in other California counties?
The California medical marijuana registry is a statewide program.  Your MMIC is valid throughout the state.
Is an MMIC valid outside of California?
Other states have the discretion whether or not to recognize a California MMIC.  Contact the state you plan on visiting to
find out whether they will accept it.
Does California accept medical marijuana cards issued by another state?
California does not recognize other state’s medical marijuana cards.
Can a minor obtain a medical marijuana card in California?
Minors may receive California MMICs as either patients or primary caregivers.  However, unless the minor has proof of
emancipation, the county is required to contact the minor’s parent or legal guardian, or the person with legal authority
to make medical decisions for the minor.  This is to verify the information on the application/renewal form.
Minors will need either a valid government-issued photo identification, or a certified copy of their birth certificate.

Marijuana is still illegal under federal law.  The U.S. government does not recognize state-issued MMICs.  As a practical
matter, however, federal government policy is to not prosecute individual patients who comply with state laws
regarding medical marijuana.