Pros and Cons of Getting a Medical Marijuana Card

With most states in the U.S. now offering a medical marijuana program, more people than ever are curious about the pros and cons of getting a medical marijuana card.

Because the laws regarding medical marijuana differ from state to state, it can sometimes be difficult to understand the positives and negatives of a having a medical card. This is especially true in states that offer both a medical and recreational marijuana program, which tends to cause some confusion when it comes to deciding why or why not to get a medical card.

This article will take a closer look at the benefits of getting a medical marijuana card as well as the disadvantages and possible reasons not to get a medical card in your state.

Pros of a Medical Marijuana Card

Getting a medical marijuana card comes with some great benefits, even if you live in a state with a recreational marijuana program. Although it can vary, you can expect to see some of the same advantages of getting a medical card in each state that has a medical marijuana program.

You are Legally Protected

One of the best and most obvious reasons to get a medical marijuana card is legal protection. Marijuana may be illegal at the federal level but if you are a medical marijuana patient, you are guaranteed a certain degree of legal protection in the state that you have your medical card in.
This benefit is especially relevant in states that do not have a recreational marijuana program. In these states, being caught possessing marijuana without a medical card can lead to expensive fines or even jail time. Considering the possibly severe penalties, legal protection is one of the main reasons we recommend getting a medical marijuana card in your state.

Marijuana is More Affordable

Getting a medical marijuana card can save you a large amount of money if you live in a state with a recreational program. Recreational states typically charge an additional excise and retail tax on all recreational marijuana sales, which can add up to over 20% in taxes due on each purchase made. Medical patients will be exempt from having to pay these excise and retail taxes, saving them hundreds, if not thousands of dollars every year!

Higher Potency and Limits

The potency of marijuana can make all the difference when it comes to finding relief. Marijuana potency is determined by the levels of THC and other cannabinoids found in the individual strain or product. Typically, the more potent a marijuana product is, the more effective it will be at relieving symptoms. This means you’ll require less marijuana to get the relief you’re looking for.

In most states that have a medical and recreational program, medical marijuana products will have a higher potency limit than recreational marijuana products. This is particularly true when it comes to edibles. For example, in Colorado, recreational marijuana edibles have a potency limit of 100mg of THC per packaged product, whereas medical marijuana edibles do have a THC potency limit. Some states even reserve a percentage of the most potent marijuana products strictly for medical patients only.


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Higher Possession Limits

In general, medical marijuana patients may purchase and possess a larger quantity of cannabis than recreational users. The difference is typically at least an ounce more of cannabis for medical users, which is a substantial amount. The higher allotment for medical patients could be the difference between having enough marijuana to last each month or running out of your medicine!

Higher Growing Limits

Some states that have marijuana programs, such as California and Colorado, allow adults to grow marijuana at home. Most of the states that allow for home cultivation of cannabis have both a medical and a recreational program. Typically, medical patients in these states are allowed to grow a much greater number of marijuana plants than recreational users.

A great example is Colorado. Recreational users in Colorado may only grow up to 6 plants per person and 12 plants per residence (if multiple adults live there). Medical patients in Colorado on the other hand may grow up to 99 plants if a doctor determines it medically necessary. As you can imagine, the amount of marijuana you can obtain from 99 plants compared to 6 is tremendous!

Cons of a Medical Marijuana Card

We’ve went over some of the great benefits that come along with being a medical marijuana cardholder, so now let’s explore some of the possible negatives of having a medical card.

You Can’t Purchase a Firearm Legally

Restrictions on firearm and gun rights are one of the main reasons that many people are hesitant to get a medical marijuana card in their state. Because marijuana is still illegal at a federal level, medical marijuana patients are not able to legally purchase firearms once they officially get their medical card. Many find this restriction to be one of the biggest consequences of getting a medical card.

However, it’s important to note that this firearm restriction only applies to patients trying to purchase new firearms. Medical marijuana patients may keep the firearms that they had prior to getting their card if they continue to obey all other firearm laws.

Commercial Driving License (CDL) Restrictions

The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) does not allow for the use of medical marijuana, even if it’s allowed at the state level. This is because the DOT is a federal department, and marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.

You can still technically get a medical marijuana card if you have a commercial driver’s license because your status as a medical patient will not be shared with any other departments. However, if you end up failing a drug screening due to marijuana, having a medical marijuana card will not offer you any kind of protection in terms of your CDL and you will most likely be terminated.

Annual Renewal Fees

All medical states require patients to renew their cards every so often to keep them active, typically on an annual basis. This usually involves both a renewal fee to be seen by a doctor again as well as a state registration fee, which can cost anywhere from $100-200 total.

This may seem like a lot of money, but the amount that patients typically save by using a medical card instead of purchasing recreationally typically helps make up for these renewal costs.

Government Employment

It’s no surprise that considering medical marijuana is federally illegal that it could cause problems if you have or are trying to get a job with the U.S. government. Most government entities have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to any federally scheduled drugs, including cannabis.

Since your status as a medical marijuana patient is protected by HIPAA, this is another situation where your marijuana use as a government employee will most likely only become an issue if you are administered a drug screening. However, because the consequences are so severe and will most likely result in termination, we always recommend that patients who are government employees really take the time to think about whether a medical marijuana card is the best option for them.

Dealing with Bureaucracy

The procedure and amount of time it takes to get a medical marijuana varies from state to state. In some states, you can get a medical marijuana card the same day that you speak to a doctor. However, in other states like Maryland, it can take up to 45 days to obtain your medical marijuana card due to how long the process with the state takes. The state process typically involves submitting an application either online or via postal mail along with documentation such as a photo ID and a passport-style photo, which some patients find to be inconvenient.

To make up for the lengthy state process, we offer same-day appointments so that you can at least get the doctor’s portion of your medical card taken care of quickly. We also offer extensive help with the registration process in each state to help cut down on the processing time and hassle of having to apply.

Should You Get a Marijuana Card?

The pros and cons of getting a medical marijuana card ultimately depend on the state where you live, but for the most part we can expect to see a similar story in each state. Medical patients have more legal protection, pay a lot less for their medication, and enjoy the benefits of higher potency, possession, and growing limits. The downsides to getting a medical card will mainly only apply to you if you plan on purchasing additional firearms or are employed by the U.S. government. Hopefully with this information you’ll now be able to confidently answer the question, “should I get a medical marijuana card?”

Learn More About Getting a Medical Marijuana Card

If you’d like to learn more about the pros, cons, and overall process of getting a medical marijuana card in your state, Green Health Docs can help! Simply select your state using one of our drop-down forms to find out more information or to schedule an appointment to get a medical marijuana card. You can also give us a call/text 7 days per week at 877-242-0362 for information or to get scheduled over the phone. Our goal is to provide you with the absolute best marijuana education and certification services available anywhere!