Until recently, you needed a valid MMJ card to purchase cannabis in Arizona. However, the state now allows recreational use, with sales beginning in February 2021. In this comprehensive step-by-step guide, we’ve mapped out the exact MMJ application process in the state. We also provide up-to-date answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Arizona’s legal cannabis use.
Read on to learn how to get a Medical Marijuana card in Arizona in our complete and easy-to-read step-by-step guide.
Who Can Get an MMJ Card in Arizona?
The first criterion for getting an MMJ card in AZ is residency in the state. Also, only adults aged 18+ are considered. When you apply, you’ll have to produce a valid photo ID that shows you’re old enough for medical marijuana and live in Arizona. Applicants aged 17 or under require a legal guardian to register as their caregiver.
Also, you must have one of the qualifying conditions and the approval of a licensed physician to use cannabis for your condition.
Understanding Arizona Medical Marijuana Laws
Arizona isn’t the easiest state to obtain medical cannabis in, though it is far from the hardest. On November 2, 2010, the state approved Arizona Proposition 203 (aka the “Arizona Medical Marijuana Act”). It removed all state-level criminal penalties for the use and possession of medical marijuana. Prop 203 passed by the slenderest of margins, 50.1% to 49.9% against.
It established Arizona’s medical marijuana laws. According to Prop 203, a medical marijuana patient with a doctor’s recommendation can now possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. Prop 203 limited the number of dispensaries to 124. Also, only patients who live more than 25 miles from a dispensary can grow marijuana at home. The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) oversees the registration and renewal process.
In November 2020, 60% of Arizona residents voted in favor of the Smart and Safe Act. Also known as Proposition 207, it legalized the recreational use of cannabis to adults aged 21+. Now, it is possible to buy and possess up to an ounce in the state. However, MMJ patients have higher possession and cultivation limits, which may make it worth your while to apply.
Now, let’s discover how to submit your application and get a medical marijuana card in Arizona.
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Arizona: A Step-by-Step Guide
Assuming you satisfy the state’s MMJ program requirements, here is how you get a medical marijuana card in Arizona.
Step 1 – Send Your Medical Records and Meet with an Arizona Healthcare Provider
Before you visit a physician, make sure you have one of the qualifying medical conditions. We provide a thorough list below. Interestingly, almost 90% of MMJ patients in Arizona claim they have chronic pain.
Next, it is time to locate a ‘marijuana-friendly’ physician within the state. An increasing number of prospective patients visit neuropaths. You can find details of likely candidates by going online or even in your local newspaper.
You can get the doctor to complete the Arizona DHS medical marijuana certification form on your behalf. There is the DIY option, but few people do it when they can use a trained medical professional instead. The doctor’s office takes your photo and uploads it with other documents to the DHS.
Choosing a Medical Marijuana Doctor
You can choose any of the following types of doctors if they are licensed to practice in Arizona:
- Allopathic (MD)
- Osteopathic (DO)
- Homeopathic [MD(H)/DO(H)]
- Naturopathic (NMD or ND)
They must also have a “physician-patient relationship” with you. It means you can’t wander in off the street and expect immediate approval. At the very least, the doctor should review your medical records. They should also have a reasonable expectation that they will provide follow-up care.
Also, unlike in other states, Arizona does not provide a list of marijuana-recommending physicians. You must consult with a recommending physician on your behalf or on behalf of your caregiver. However, the doctor doesn’t have to be the same physician who made the qualifying condition’s initial diagnosis.
*Also, please note that your doctor can’t simply provide a written recommendation. Only a completed and signed copy of the state’s physician certification form will do.
What if your general practitioner is not willing to recommend medical marijuana on your behalf? In that case, you must find another doctor in the state who can help you. Make sure you send your complete medical records and medical history to the recommending doctor’s office. Otherwise, you will not have a consultation.
If your regular doctor doesn’t want to provide a recommendation, you’ll need to find another licensed physician that will.
If you don’t have your records, request them from your current physician. A doctor’s office must release a patient’s complete medical history within 30 days of their request by law.
You will need to provide proof of residency. You can do this with an Arizona ID, passport, or other photo ID that shows proof of residency. Examples include a utility bill or bank statement.
Step 2 – Gather Documents to Complete the Online Application
You need additional documents to complete the online ADHS application once you have an officially signed ADHS medical marijuana form.
These documents include:
- A photo ID: Any one of the following: A valid AZ driver’s license, an AZ identification card, an AZ registry identification card, or a U.S. passport.
*Please note that you need extra documentation if the driver’s license/identification card is dated before October 1, 1996. Examples include a birth certificate that verifies U.S. citizenship, a U.S. Certificate of Naturalization, or a U.S. Certificate of Citizenship.
- A current photograph separate from your official photo ID:The program only accepts photos taken no more than 60 calendar days before applying. Only photos 2” x 2” in size and taken in natural color with a plain white or off-white background are permitted. You also need to show a front view of your full face. This means no hats, headgear, etc., that obscures the hair or hairline.
- A completed and signed Patient Attestation Form
- SNAP documentation: This only applies to applicants with an electronic benefits transfer card. It demonstrates current participation in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services’ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
*Remember, all of these documents must be accompanied by the physician recommendation form. Also, you must scan each document and upload it in PDF format for online submission. Hand-delivered applications are not accepted. If you have problems or are not tech-savvy, consult with a local office supply store like Staples, Office Depot, etc.
For a complete list of required application materials, check out the AZ Medical Marijuana Qualifying Patient checklist.
Step 3 – Submit Your Application and Wait for Approval
Once your documents are ready, register with the Arizona Department of Health Services and proceed with the MMJ online application. Click on ‘Qualifying Patient New Application.’
*For patients under 18 years of age, please make sure you choose the relevant form. There is a separate application for minors. (Also, there is a designated application for caregivers that are registering on behalf of a patient).
For further information, feel free to contact the Arizona Department of Health Services:
Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS)
Medical Marijuana Program
150 North 18th Avenue
Phoenix, Arizona 85007
Compared to other states, Arizona seems to realize that we’re in the 21st century. You can easily follow up on your medical card application status by using their convenient online service.
How Much Is a Medical Card in AZ?
Fortunately, Arizona offers a generous benefits program for low-income applicants looking to apply for medical marijuana. If you belong to SNAP and can provide documentation, you are potentially eligible for a reduced fee.
For all other patients, here is how much a medical card is in AZ:
|COST / FEE||DESCRIPTION|
|$150 ($75 for eligible SNAP participants)||This is the initial online application fee for qualifying patients or a renewal identification card. Your card is now eligible for two years.|
|$75-200||This is for an initial or a renewal registry identification card for a designated caregiver (caregivers must apply for a new card for every patient under their care, for a maximum of up to five patients)|
|$500||For an initial or a renewal registry identification card for a dispensary agent|
|$5,000||For an initial dispensary registration certificate|
|$1,000||For a renewal dispensary registration certificate|
|$2,500||If you need to change the location of your dispensary or cultivation facility|
|$10||If you want to amend, change, or replace a registry identification card|
Qualifying Conditions for a Medical Card in Arizona
Arizona patients diagnosed with one of the following “severe, debilitating, or life-threatening medical conditions” are possibly eligible. An MMJ card provides possible legal protection under the Arizona Medical Marijuana law. Your doctor must diagnose you with one of the following qualifying conditions for a medical card in Arizona:
- HIV / AIDS
- Hepatitis C
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Crohn’s Disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
Also, any “chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition” that causes one of the following:
- Cachexia(Wasting Syndrome)
- Severe or chronic pain
- Severe nausea
- Seizures / Epilepsy
- Muscle spasms (including those characteristic of Multiple Sclerosis)
How to Renew a Medical Card in Arizona
It is fairly easy to renew your medical card in AZ. You can do it by downloading the official form. You can only apply for a renewal if the expiration date on your card is less than 90 days away. As per Arizona Administrative Code R9-17-102, the application fee for a renewal application is the same as the application fee for a new form.
Also, the renewal process requires updating several documents each time, including:
- A new, current physician certification.
- An original, current photograph (taken no more than 60 calendar days before submitting your renewal).
- A new Patient Attestation Form signed and dated with the current date.
- Current/updated documentation of your SNAP eligibility, if applicable.
- A copy of your new identification (if your name has changed since your last application).
Other Important Information on the Arizona Medical Marijuana License Process
Now, it is time to look into other aspects of the Arizona MMJ program that we haven’t yet covered.
How to Legally Obtain Marijuana in Arizona
The legalization of recreational cannabis has resulted in a significant increase in dispensaries. By early 2021, there were over 70 that could sell adult-use marijuana alone. The state plans to cap the number of dispensaries at 160 or so ultimately. MMJ patients have the option to use both medical and recreational dispensaries. However, make sure you bring your MMJ card to benefit from the larger purchase limit.
As an MMJ patient, you have the option to donate marijuana to your fellow patients. Therefore, if a buddy also has a card, they can give you some cannabis for free. It is illegal to sell marijuana without the proper license.
Another option is to cultivate your marijuana. You must declare your intention to grow cannabis on the application form. Also, you must live in an area of Arizona that is greater than 25 miles from a state-licensed dispensary. Fulfill these criteria, and you can grow a maximum of 12 plants at home. In contrast, recreational users can cultivate up to six plants.
Can I Only Apply Online for MMJ in Arizona? Or Can I Walk It in?
You can only submit the ADHS application online.
How Long Will It Take to Receive My Identification Card?
After the ADHS receives your completed application, they will issue a registry identification card (if approved) within ten working days.
What Are Approved AZ Medical Marijuana Patients Entitled to?
You may possess an “allowable amount of marijuana,” which is defined as 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana every two weeks. You are allowed to possess a maximum of 2.5 ounces.
Can I Use Medical Marijuana Anywhere in Arizona?
A qualifying patient may not consume medical marijuana at a dispensary. However, they can eat medical marijuana in foods or use infused products at other licensed locations.
State law lists places where a qualifying patient may not smoke medical marijuana, including public places. Examples include a nursing care institution, hospice, assisted living facility, or adult foster care home. You must comply with any restrictions imposed by these facilities.
Can I Consume Medical Cannabis in My Car?
No. A patient cannot drive while under the influence of marijuana. Also, a 2019 court ruling states that you are not allowed to smoke cannabis in a public parking lot.
Can I Take My Medical Marijuana to a State Outside of Arizona?
No. Medical marijuana patients may face federal and local charges of transporting marijuana if they cross state lines with the drug. This is true even if the states between which they are traveling allow medical marijuana. Should you need to travel with your cannabis, contact the state’s Bureau of Health to understand the specific laws of your destination state.
How Much Medical Marijuana Should I Consume?
We are not doctors or physicians. Therefore, you should always consult with a professional before using medical marijuana. Should you have any other questions, please contact us or go directly to the ADHS FAQ page.
Can You Get a Medical Card in Arizona if You Have a Felony?
Yes. There is nothing in the state’s MMJ law that says you’re ineligible for medical marijuana. However, please note that consuming cannabis in public could result in a felony conviction.
Does Arizona Accept Out-of-State Cards?
No. MMJ patients from other states can’t buy marijuana using their card in Arizona. However, the state does recognize out-of-state medical marijuana authorization. This means you are subject to the same protections as MMJ users in Arizona, even if you can’t purchase marijuana in the state. Also, Arizona began recreational cannabis sales in February 2021. You can buy and possess up to an ounce of marijuana if you’re aged 21+.