CA Marijuana Rules and Regulations: What you need to know in 2018

medical marijuana identification cardProp 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, passed in November 2016, exciting cannabis users across the state of California with the prospect of being able to purchase marijuana legally without a medical recommendation.

While this is great news for the overall decriminalization of cannabis across the golden state, there are a few things to know before heading out to dispensaries in January 2018. The rules, regulations, and legislature are still being drafted, so here’s what we can tell you so far:

Are all Dispensaries in CA now Recreational?

In short, no. January 2018, is just a proposed date range that dispensaries will be able to sell recreationally. Each city is required to draft specific terms that will allow them to control and track recreational cannabis sales, among other things – and as with any city legislature, progress has been slow moving and complicated.

In order for current medical dispensaries to sell recreationally, they must submit a permit application to the Bureau of Cannabis Control. This application can be submitted electronically as of December 7th, 2017.

Along with the application, a fee of $1,000 must also be paid to the Bureau (though this is being waived, currently). After all of this is completed, only medical dispensaries who were previously, legally, operating within their county will be issued permits for recreational operation on January 2nd. These permits are only temporary 4-month permits while further regulations and budgetary guidelines are drafted.

So, what does this mean for non-medical card holders looking to purchase recreational cannabis come January?

What this means: You may not be able to purchase without a medical card just yet. Some cities in California have completely banned dispensaries from selling recreationally. Additionally, the process of obtaining recreational permits could take months for your local dispensaries, so be sure to reach out to them about their recreational standing before heading there in January.

online medical cardDo you still need a medical card in 2018?

Do you need one? If you’re over 21, no. Should you want one? Yes. Here’s why –

Beyond the fact that your local dispensaries may not be able to sell to you without a medical card right away if you have a medical card, you also have the benefit of lower age requirements, higher cultivation limits, better product, and tax breaks.

Age Requirements

First, if you’re still under 21, you’ll need a medical card to purchase product. Only people 21 and over will be able to buy cannabis products at dispensaries without a medical recommendation. If you’re 18-20 years old, you’ll still need to renew your medical recommendation each year in order to purchase from dispensaries.

Cultivation Limits

Without a medical card, people 21 and over are legally allowed to cultivate up to 6 plants, and possess/carry up to about an ounce of flower (or 28.5 grams) and 8 grams of concentrate.

With a medical card, you are legally allowed to cultivate as much cannabis as you medically need for your conditions (though this amount is still regulated by your specific residential county). If you’re interested in growing your own medicine, having a medical card could still be very beneficial.

Changes to Product Potency

growing mmjIf you’re a fan of edibles, tinctures, and topicals, you may be disappointed to find out that your products will not be as potent or highly concentrated if you’re buying recreationally.

Edibles will be limited to 100mg of THC per product, distributed into 10mg servings. Medical patients can still purchase higher milligram edibles before July 1st. After July 1st, all edibles, medical and recreational, will need to follow the lower milligram guidelines.

Topicals (lotions and creams), Tinctures (cannabis extracts), and Concentrates (oils and wax) will also be limited to 1,000mg of THC for recreational purchases. Medical patients will have the benefit of purchasing higher potency topicals, tinctures, and concentrates with up to 2,000mg of THC.

Other somewhat interesting regulations include limitations on edible shapes. Edibles cannot be shaped like humans, animals, or fruit. No recreational products can contain seafood (good idea), caffeine, or dairy other than butter.

What this means: Having a medical card means more product options and higher potency products. Though, after July, the days of super high potency edibles may be gone for medical and non-medical patients alike.

New Taxes

Sorry to break it to you, but something that is starting immediately in 2018 is the new marijuana excise tax! This new tax adds up to an extra 20% onto your cannabis purchases, which will be allocated into the brand new California Marijuana Tax Fund.

So, what will this money be used for? The revenue accrued from the excise tax will first be used to compensate state agencies for new recreational marijuana regulatory and administrative costs. The rest of the revenue will be used for the following:

  1. Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development: Some of the funds will be used to implement a “community reinvestment program”, focusing on substance abuse treatment and job placement assistance in neighborhoods with a previously high drug-related crime.
  2. Public Universities in California/ Environmental Restoration and Protection: Other funds will be allocated to “evaluate the effects of the measure”. This could mean a few different things: collecting data and stats, research, etc. Another portion will be used to “clean up and restore” any environmental damage from the illegal growing of cannabis plants.
  3. California Highway Patrol: A certain portion will also be used to create programs designed to reduce andregulate people “driving while impaired”, aka, driving while medicated. Other things to note: smoking cannabis in public places, while driving a car, or in areas where tobacco is not allowed is still prohibited under Prop 64.
  4. mmj taxUniversity of California San Diego Center for Medical Cannabis Research: Lastly, a section of the revenue will be allocated to researching the “risks and benefits” associated with medical cannabis (or cannabis in general).

While some of these allocations sound promising, only time will tell how beneficial these appropriations actually are.

Don’t feel like paying an extra 20% into the California Marijuana Tax Fund? Here’s the good news – If you have a medical card, and register as a cardholder within your county, you’re exempt from paying the new taxes.

What this means: If you don’t have a medical card, you’ll be paying more money. If you have a basic medical card, you’ll still pay more money in 2018. BUT, if you have a medical card and are registered as a cardholder with the state, you’ll be paying the same prices you were before Prop 64 passed (no taxes!).

How to Register for a Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC) with your County for Tax Cut Benefits

To be clear, registering for your Medical Marijuana Identification Card is completely voluntary. You are still an official medical marijuana patient without a state ID card, but, completing this extra step could save you a decent amount of money in the future.

Here’s what you need to gather:

  1. Proof of identity – A driver’s license, State ID card, or Passport
  2. Proof of residency within your applying county – Driver’s license/ State ID card with correct residential address OR lease/utility bill with residential address
  3. Application fee – Your county can charge up to (but no more than) $100 for your state application. If you have Medi-Cal, this fee may be reduced if you present a current Medi-Cal ID card


  1. Medical Marijuana Program Application – CDPH 9042
  2. Your paper doctor’s recommendation OR the Written Documentation of Patient’s Medical Records Form – CDPH 9044

What you need to do:

  1. Locate your County Department of Public Health.
  2. Search for “Medical Marijuana Program” on their website
  3. Review your county’s specific application submittal instructions – Many counties require you to schedule an appointment in order to submit your application
  4. If you are using the Written Documentation of Patient’s Medical Records Form, instead of your paper recommendation, fax or email the form to your doctor/doctor’s service/office. If you used PrestoDoctor for your appointment, you can email the form to

Where to apply:

  1. Once you have your forms gathered, bring all completed forms and identifying documents to your county office at your appointment time (or during business hours if walk-ins are an available option at your local office). Currently, counties do not have an online system for processing applications, so your application will need to be submitted in person

Once successfully submitted in office, the county will mail you your Medical Marijuana Identification Card within 10 – 30 days.

What this means: There are a few extra steps that you’ll need to take in order to get a MMIC through your county, but the benefits will likely outweigh the the extra time taken. Without a state issued medical card, you’ll likely be paying up to 20% more for your cannabis products. With your state issued card, you’ll save a ton of money in the long run. Just like your normal medical recommendation, your MMIC will also need to be renewed each year.

How PrestoDoctor Can Help

PrestoDoctor provides completely online medical cannabis recommendation evaluations for the state of California. Need to renew your current medical recommendation in 2018? Sign up at and schedule your video chat consultation. All you need is a valid ID and a device with webcam (computer, smartphone, or tablet).

Want to register with the state for tax benefits? PrestoDoctor will help you with that, too! Let us know the county in which you reside, and we will look up your local Department of Public Health office and send you the applicable information on how to apply for your Medical Marijuana Identification Card.

Still have questions? You can reach out to PrestoDoctor’s live-chat support team 7 days a week at, or through

Helpful Links To Get You Started:

Find your county’s Department of Public Health: Department of Public Health County Index

See if your city will allow recreational sales at local dispensaries: Rules and Regulations in 2018 by City