People interested in getting a medical marijuana ID card in Arizona have many questions about the process. These questions typically include some common inquiries, including:
- How do I apply for a medical marijuana ID card and what makes me eligible?
- What if I have a different medical condition proven to benefit from medical marijuana use, but the State of Arizona does not yet include this on their list of approved conditions?
- Is my doctor required to write medical marijuana recommendations for people with one of the listed acceptable conditions?
- What are costs associated with gaining a registry ID card and where can I use the drug?
- How much marijuana can I legally possess with a registry ID card and where can I use the drug?
- What happens if I test positive for marijuana at work, but possess a medical marijuana ID card?
- What kind of criminal charges do I face if I am pulled over for drugged driving with a patient registry ID card?
How do I apply for a medical marijuana ID card and what makes me eligible?
Qualifying patients can apply for their medical marijuana ID card now, as has been legal in Arizona since 2011. The process involves visiting a doctor licensed to practice in Arizona, such as a medical doctor, osteopath, homeopath or naturopath. You must have a legitimate physician-patient relationship with this practitioner. You can tell a doctor qualifies for making your recommendation if he or she bears these professional initials after their name:
- MD, allopathic medical doctors
- DO, osteopathic doctors
- MD(H) or DO(H), homeopathic doctors
- MD(N) or NMD, naturopathic doctors
You qualify to receive your MMJ Card when you have a diagnosis of one of the state-approved medical conditions. These conditions include:
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
- Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
- Hepatitis C
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Crohn’s disease
- Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease
- A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or the treatment for a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that causes:
- Cachexia or wasting syndrome
- Severe and chronic pain
- Severe nausea
- Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
- Severe or persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis
After your diagnosis with one of these qualifying conditions, you need a doctor’s written certification to accompany your application for a registry ID. The written certification must be provided by the doctor on the Arizona Department of Health’s official form within 90 days before your application submission.
Medical Conditions Not on the Current List of Approved Conditions
What if I have a different medical condition proven to benefit from medical marijuana use, but the State of Arizona does not yet include it on their list of approved conditions?
Every January and July, the state reviews submitted requests for additions to the official list of approved conditions for medical marijuana use. You can submit a request for addition of your condition if it is not already included. There is a specific process for making such a request. You must:
- Provide the name of your medical condition or treatment, for which you want medical marijuana use permitted
- Symptom description and details of how these interfere with your daily life
- Availability of conventional medical treatments that provide help or comfort
- Summary of evidence showing marijuana helps provide comfort or therapy for that specific condition
- Articles published in scientific journals with peer reviews, on research into use of marijuana for the specific medical condition or treatment, to support your desire for medicinal use
Is my doctor required to write medical marijuana recommendations for people with one of the listed acceptable conditions?
No physician is required to agree with the medical marijuana option for patient treatment, therapy or relief. A doctor is also not required to recommend medical marijuana for patients with chronic or debilitating conditions. If your diagnosing physician does not recommend or approve of your desired medical marijuana use, you have the right to seek the opinion and recommendation of another doctor.
If you seek another doctor’s recommendation, outside of your primary care physician, the one providing your medical marijuana certification must confirm your qualifying health condition and likelihood to benefit from medical marijuana use. The physician must also affirm that this recommendation stems from a legitimate doctor-patient relationship. All of this is done on the required form for submission to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
What are costs associated with gaining a registry ID card?
As of 2019, the cost of a medical marijuana registry ID card is $150. Of course, you must also pay for your doctors’ visits associated with obtaining your card and maintaining eligibility from year to year. If you lose your card, a replacement from the Arizona Department of Health Services is only $10.
If you are currently on the SNAP program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, your registry ID card costs half the standard rate. This means you pay $75 and not $150.
How much marijuana can I legally possess with a registry ID card and where can I use the drug?
Even with a registered MMJ ID card, there are still strict medical marijuana laws in Arizona. Having your card does not by-pass any responsibilities that come with being a medical marijuana patient. With your registry ID card you are legally able to possess up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana (the dried flower) or mixtures or preparations (such as resin or hashish) made from 2.5 ounces of dried flowers.. If you do not live within 25 miles of a state run dispensary, you are permitted to own and grow at total of 12 marijuana plants.
When you use your marijuana, you cannot do so in the dispensary, itself. You also cannot smoke medical marijuana in public places, parks or schools. Marijuana edibles and infused products sold by the dispensaries can be consumed in public according to state law. Your individual location, nursing institution, hospice, assisted living facility or other health care environments may also impose their own restrictions.
While under your patient registry ID you can possess up to 2.5 ounces of dried flower marijuana, or mixtures or preparations (such as resin or hashish) made from 2.5 of dried flowers, you cannot operate your motor vehicle while using the product or under its influence. Doing so puts you at extreme general and legal risk. It also endangers others on the roads.
What happens if I test positive for marijuana at work, but possess a medical marijuana ID card?
Under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, your employer cannot penalize you for using the drug if you possess a legal registry ID card. That is, you cannot be penalized for having the drug in your system. But being a registrant for medical marijuana does not authorize you to use the drug at work, on your work premises or during working hours. If you face unfair penalties under your employment because of your off-duty medical marijuana use, consult a qualified attorney who specializes in Arizona medical marijuana cases.
What kind of criminal charges do I face if I am pulled over for drugged driving with a patient registry ID card?
A patient registry ID card does not give you the right to drive while using marijuana or when the drug is impairing your ability to drive. Marijuana affects your brain, how you think and how you react to life situations. So driving under its influence can be deadly for you, anyone in your vehicle and others on the roads.
Your patient registry ID card means nothing to the courts if you are caught driving while impaired by marijuana. But, sometimes the law leads to confusion regarding marijuana metabolites, the THC derivatives that remain in your blood and body for up to 72 days after using the drug. Many of these confusing factors were addressed through the December 2016 Arizona Court of Appeals decision putting the burden of proof of impairment squarely on the prosecution.
Under Arizona’s zero tolerance for these offenses, you face a first-time offense mandatory minimum of 24 hours incarceration and up to six months in jail. The first offense can cost you $1800 in fines, additional fees, community service hours, attendance of drug education, 90 days’ driver’s license suspension, five years’ probation and other penalties.