Medical Marijuana Program Frequently Asked Questions
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) administers the Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC) program. The Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) was established to provide a voluntary medical marijuana identification card issuance and registry program for qualified patients and their caregivers.
Prop 215 is another term for the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. Prop 215 was the first statewide medical marijuana measure voted into law in the United States. Prop 215 provides protections to seriously ill persons who have their doctor’s recommendation to use marijuana for medical purposes. Prop 215 also provides protections to the physicians and primary caregivers who assist these seriously ill persons, who are known as “qualified patients” under SB 420 (Chapter 875, Statutes of 2003). SB 420 was enacted into the Health and Safety Code of California (Sections 11362.7 through 11362.83) to address problems with Prop 215. SB 420 requires the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to create the Medical Marijuana Program (MMP). The state MMP is responsible for developing and maintaining an online registry and verification system for Medical Marijuana Identification Cards or “MMICs.” MMICs are available to qualified patients and their primary caregivers. The intent of SB 420 is to help law enforcement and qualified patients by creating a form of identification for qualified patients that is official and uniform throughout the State. The online registry allows law enforcement to verify that a MMIC is valid. For more information see the MMP’s home page.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) manages the State’s MMP as authorized by SB 420. Several counties also use the term “MMP” for their programs. The MMP developed the “Medical Marijuana Identification Card” or “MMIC” and operates the internet system to verify these MMICs.
The MMIC identifies the cardholder as a person protected under the provisions of Prop 215 and SB 420. It is used to help law enforcement identify the cardholder as being able to legally possess certain amounts of medical marijuana under specific conditions.
You will need to discuss this with your attending physician. In order to qualify for the protections of Prop 215 and SB 420, you will need to be diagnosed with a serious medical condition. The diagnosis and your physician’s recommendation that the use of medical marijuana is appropriate for you must be documented in your medical records.
A serious medical condition, as defined by SB 420, is any of the following: AIDS; anorexia; arthritis; cachexia (wasting syndrome); cancer; chronic pain; glaucoma; migraine; persistent muscle spasms (i.e., spasms associated with multiple sclerosis); seizures (i.e., epileptic seizures); severe nausea; any other chronic or persistent medical symptom that either substantially limits a person’s ability to conduct one or more of major life activities as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, or if not alleviated, may cause serious harm to the person’s safety, physical, or mental health.
You can obtain a MMIC only at your Local County Public Health Department and not through your physician or an evaluation center. The MMIC is voluntary to patients, and all that is required under Senate Bill 420 (SB 420) is your physician’s letter recommending the use of medical marijuana. All county offices and contact information is at www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/mmp.
No. Participation in the MMP is voluntary.
You will need to fill out an Application/Renewal Form. You must reside in the California county where the application is submitted. You will need to provide current documentation with your application as follows:
- A copy of your doctor's recommendation
- Proof of identity. This can be a valid California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) driver’s license or identification (ID) card or other valid government-issued photo ID card.
- Proof of residency which can be:
- Rent or mortgage receipt,
- Utility bill, or
- California DMV motor vehicle registration.
You must apply in person at your county’s program. There you will be asked to:
- Pay the fee required by your county program. Medi-Cal beneficiaries will receive a 50 percent reduction in the application fee.
- Have your photo taken at the county’s program office. This photo will appear on your MMIC.
No. To simplify this requirement, the state MMP offers a form to serve this purpose. It is the Written Documentation of Patients Medical Records form. It is simply a form your physician can use to state in writing that you have a serious medical condition and that the use of medical marijuana is appropriate. The original is submitted with your application and a copy must be kept in your medical records at your physician’s office.
Fees vary by county. You will need to contact your county’s program to find out the fee your county charges for a MMIC application. Also, if you request the 50 percent Medi-Cal reduction, you will need to provide proof of participation in the Medi-Cal Program.
A primary caregiver is a person who is consistently responsible for the housing, health, or safety of a qualified patient. A primary caregiver must be at least 18 years of age, unless the primary caregiver is an emancipated minor or the parent of a minor child who is a qualified patient. This may be an individual or the owner, operator or employee of an appropriately licensed clinic, facility, hospice, or home health agency For more information please visit the Responsibilities: Applicant, Primary Caregiver, and Physician web page.
As a primary caregiver you cannot apply for a MMIC. The patient you care for is responsible for applying for your MMIC. Your patient will need to fill out an Application/Renewal Form and check the appropriate box on the top of page one to include primary caregiver. You do not need to reside in the California county where the application is submitted, but you must provide information on your residence. If you are the primary caregiver for more than one qualified patient you must reside in the same county as them. You will need to provide proof of identity which can be a California DMV driver’s license or California ID card or other government-issued photo ID card. You must apply in person at the patient's county program. There you will be asked to:
- Pay the fee required by your county program. Medi-Cal beneficiaries and their primary caregivers will receive a 50 percent reduction to the application fee.
- Have your photo taken at the county office. This photo will appear on your MMIC.
Once you submit your completed and signed application form with the required documents (proof of residency, medical documentation, etc.) to your county’s program, the county program has 30 days to verify your application. Once the application is verified, the county program has five days to make the MMIC available to you. It can take 35 days to receive your MMIC if the application is complete and the county program finds no reason to deny your application. If any information or documents are missing, this may delay processing your application. If this is the case, your county’s program will contact you within 30 days from the day you submit your application. If you do not receive your MMIC in 35 days, contact your county’s program.
One year. A primary caregiver card will expire when the patient's card expires even if it is less that 12 months.
Renewing a MMIC requires the same process as when you originally applied. This includes verifying your information and giving you a new MMIC and new number. If your medical documentation is still valid, you may use this for your renewal. It may be necessary for you to obtain new medical documentation. Your county’s program will verify any information they feel is necessary. You will need to contact their office for more information.
It may be but contact the state first. California does not recognize other states MMIC.
Yes. This is a statewide identification card and registry program.
No. The MMP does not maintain lists of physicians nor is it a referral service.
All patient information is covered under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and cannot be released without the patient’s signature or a court subpoena. The Medical Marijuana Application System does not contain any personal information such as name, address or social security number. It only contains the unique user ID number and when entered the only information provided is whether the card is valid or invalid.
Yes. A conservator with authority to make medical decisions, surrogate decision maker authorized under an advanced health care directive, an attorney-in-fact under durable power of attorney for healthcare, or any other individual authorized by statutory or decisional law to make medical decisions for the qualified patient may apply for that patient.
You will need to have your photo taken which will appear on the MMIC. Also, certain verifications will need to be completed in person.
Check with your county’s program for information.
Only a patient can apply for either type of card, and both the patient and the primary caregiver must provide certain personal information to the county program. You both need to apply in person at the county program office because you will both be photographed for each MMIC.
The county the patient resides in.
Yes. A minor (under 18 years of age) can apply as a patient or caregiver under certain conditions. Minors may apply for themselves as qualified patients if they are lawfully emancipated or have declared self-sufficiency status. If the minor has not declared self-sufficient status or is not emancipated, the county’s program is required to contact the minor’s parent, legal guardian, or person with legal authority to make medical decisions for the minor. This is to verify information on the Application/Renewal Form. An emancipated minor or the minor's parent of a qualified patient may apply as a primary caregiver. If a minor declares status as a self-sufficient minor or is an emancipated minor, his or her county program may require additional documentation. Contact your county’s program for more information on additional required documentation.
Minors may use a valid government-issued photo identification, such as a California driver’s license or a California ID card. A certified copy of a birth certificate can be sufficient proof of identity for a minor.
Please see the Appeals web page for more information on appealing a county's decision to deny your application.
- A unique user identification number of the cardholder
- Date of expiration of the identification card
- Name and telephone number of the county program that has approved the application
- Internet address used to verify the validity of the MMIC
- Photo identification of the cardholder
- “Patient” or “Primary Caregiver” to specify the cardholder
Please contact your county’s program for more details and fees.
Per Health and Safety Code Section 11362.77, a qualified patient or primary caregiver may possess no more than 8oz. of dried marijuana per qualified patient. In addition, a qualified patient or primary caregiver may also maintain no more than 6 mature or 12 immature marijuana plants.
The MMP is not authorized to provide information on acquiring marijuana or other related products.