If you have a valid medical marijuana card (MMJ card) and live in one of the nine U.S. states where weed is now legal recreationally, you might be wondering whether or not it’s worth it to renew the card, or just buy recreationally and not have to deal with renewal fees, doctor visits, application fees, etc.
Well, it’s certainly a fair enough question, and is one that’s worth digging a little bit deeper into as there are several important things to consider before you settle on either one option or the other.
In this article, we try and present a few of the most important things to consider in an effort to answer the question of “should I renew my medical marijuana card if weed is recreationally legal.” So before you toss out that MMJ card or let it expire, read on a little further because you just might be surprised at the advantages that it can afford you over the long term – both literally and figuratively.
Is it Cheaper to Buy Medical Marijuana or Recreational Marijuana?
Of course, one of the main things that medical marijuana cardholders want to know is whether it’s more cost-effective for them to use their MMJ card to buy weed, or just buy it from a recreational dispensary. The main financial downfall of the medical card of course is that you have to renew it every year, which can easily cost anywhere up to $200 once you include the application fee, doctor consultation fee(s), etc.
Basically, when it comes down to it the overall cost-effectiveness will depend on how much cannabis you actually use. The major savings in terms of MMJ cardholders over recreational users is that, at least in California, is that you get a pretty significant tax break if you have an MMJ card.
If you spend around $200/month on weed using your medical card, for example, that comes out to roughly $190/year that you save just in sales tax alone, given an average tax of 8%. So if the annual cost of renewing your MMJ card is $100, then you would hypothetically be able to pay for the card and save an additional $90, just for buying medical instead of recreational. If you don’t go through that much weed of course, though, your savings likely won’t be as substantial.
Do Medical Marijuana Patients Get Better Weed than Recreational Customers?
Perhaps a more important factor to consider in terms of whether to use your MMJ card or buy recreationally, is what’s available to you as a medical customer. Even in states where legalization is fully recreational, some products are still only available to MMJ cardholders that have a specific doctor’s recommendation.
For example, while marijuana buds are more or less standard across both medical and recreational users (i.e. you’re not really going to find flower that has a THC concentration much above 30%), there can be significant differences in “product potency” when talking about concentrates like wax and shatter.
Again, using California as an example, medical cardholders are allowed to purchase concentrates (which includes oils, waxes, shatters, butters, crumbles, etc) that have 1,000 mg of THC “per package,” while recreational consumers only have access to 500 mg of THC per package. (“Per package” simply means the amount of THC that any one “package” of concentrate can contain).
Of course, depending on the medical condition that you’re treating, this can result in huge differences in terms of the quality of therapy that you receive. In fact, with the extremely potent act of “dabbing” becoming more and more popular among medical users, a lot of patients are looking for the strongest, most potent concentrates available. And of course, these are only available if you have a valid MMJ card.
Can You Buy More Weed if You Have a Medical Marijuana Card?
Another thing to consider in terms of not letting your MMJ card expire is the fact that (in most states at least) you can buy more marijuana at any one time if you’re a medical patient rather than just a recreational user.
California MMJ cardholders for instance can buy up to 8 ounces of weed per day, while recreational users can only buy 1 ounce per day. While of course no one out there is burning through 8 oz of weed in a single day (or are they?), this can be a pretty significant advantage for a couple of different reasons.
For one, if you go through a lot of cannabis as a medical patient and don’t really live anywhere near a quality dispensary, it could save you a ton of time (and ultimately money) by not having to drive into town every time you need to restock your medicine supply.
Another reason is in terms of product specificity. Any medical weed user will likely tell you that they have a specific strain (or at least a specific product) that they find works best for them. With the advantage of being able to buy large quantities at a time, you can virtually ensure that you’ll always have access to your favorite strain, rather than driving to the dispensary and hoping that they’re not sold out of whatever it is that you need.
Can You Smoke in Public with a Medical Marijuana Card?
Yet another advantage that medical weed users have over recreational users is that, at least in most states, there are laws that allow MMJ users to smoke (or otherwise consume) cannabis in public.
While some states are more lax than others in terms of enforcing their “no weed use in public” laws, the fact is that you’re really not allowed to consume cannabis in any form in a public setting — just like drinking alcohol.
If you have a valid MMJ card on you, though, most areas will allow you to consume in a public location.
Can You Cross State Lines with Medical Marijuana?
This is another one where the laws can vary from state to state. According to some state laws, as long as you have your active MMJ card on you, you can legally travel from state to state with your medical marijuana. According to Federal Laws, it is prohibited and therefore that MMJ card gives you an extra layer of protection.
Before you go on a cross-country roadtrip with eight ounces of pot on board, though, make sure you check the specific laws in each state you’ll be hitting, as there are absolutely restrictions to the amount of weed that you can travel with, even if you do have a medical marijuana card.
Final Thoughts on Whether It’s Better to Buy Medical Marijuana or Recreational Marijuana
All in all, whether or not it’s worth it for you to hang on to your MMJ card and keep renewing it year after year will determine on a few different things. The main thing of course is how much weed you actually use. If you consume anywhere around an ounce per month, it will likely be in your best financial interest to hold onto the medical card, rather than buying recreationally.
Also, with a medical card you typically have access to the most potent weed available, as well as extremely potent concentrate options. For patients that suffer from severe medical conditions (like chronic pain, anxiety, depression, etc), this can make all the difference in the world in terms of the quality of therapy that’s available.
At the end of the day, even if marijuana has become fully recreationally legal in your state, it may be well worth it to hang on to that MMJ card, at least for the time being.
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