How to Get a Medical Card in Arizona

image of a pill bottle filled with weed spilling over onto a white table with an RX pad on it

The only legal way to get cannabis in the state of Arizona is with a medical marijuana card.

Medicinal marijuana was legalized in 2010 via Proposition 203 – the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act – which worked to both decriminalize possession and use of the plant, as well as allow access for individuals with qualifying conditions.

Like many states, Arizona has a process that involves recommendation, registration, and identification in order to get herbal relief. Here's how to get a medical marijuana card in Arizona.

Step 1: Get a Recommendation image of a doctor sitting at a desk talking to a female patient

In order to start the process to obtain an MMJ card, a licensed Arizona doctor – either an allopathic (MD), homeopathic [MD(H)/DO(H)], naturopathic (NMD/ND), or osteopathic (DO) – has to sign off. All individuals are required to get a recommendation from a licensed physician in Arizona, and they must fill out an official medical marijuana certification form from the Arizona Department of Health Services on your behalf.

A key difference between Arizona and other states is that they don't have a list of cannabis-recommending doctors available. This isn't a major roadblock, it just means that you have to find a doctor willing to give a recommendation on your own. The easiest approach is likely to ask your current doctor, or a physician you have a relationship with, to see if they would endorse your need for a  medical marijuana card. While some doctors might feel uncomfortable with medical marijuana because of federal pressures, there are many that are still willing to help.

As you get your recommendation, this is a good time to ask questions about what using medical marijuana will look like for you as a medical consumer. Good questions to ask include inquiries about dosing, as well as consumption methods, and the reasons for each – such as eating edibles versus using topical lotions or smoking. It can't hurt to get as much information possible about the world of medical marijuana.

You can find a list of Arizona’s qualifying conditions here.

Step 2: Get your Ducks in a Row photo of a bunch of papers paperclipped together and stacked on top of each other

There are several forms that are required to get an MMJ card in Arizona. After you have the officially signed ADHS MMJ form, you'll have to gather a few more documents.

First, you have to be a resident of the state to apply , which also means that you need a way to prove it. This can be done by showing evidence of residency, either through an Arizona ID, photo ID, passport, or a utility bill that lists out your address.

In addition to a photo ID, you will also need to have a separate, current picture framing the entire face, without any hats or other headwear distractions. Similar to a passport photo, it needs to be taken within 60 days of the application, be two inches by two inches, and have a white background.

You'll also need to have a signed Patient Attestation Form.

Last, you'll need SNAP documentation if you are an applicant with an electronic benefits card. This isn't applicable to everyone – only those that participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Since the application is online-only, each of these required documents needs to be scanned and converted into PDF format. Hand submissions are not accepted, and you cannot make walk-in appointments. If using a computer is difficult, this is where help comes in handy. Many librarians can assist with computer needs if friends or family are unavailable.

To make sure you've got all the documents necessary, refer to this list.

Step 3: Submit the Application close up of a woman completing an application form

Once you have all the required documents scanned and ready to go, along with the medical recommendation, it's time to upload them. You have to register with the Arizona Department of Health Services, filling out the medical marijuana online application .

Underage consumers (under 18) and caregivers have separate forms, specific to their designation.

After submitting the application, it's possible to follow up and check on the application process. It should take about 10 working days for the medical marijuana card to be issued.

Card Fees

As you fill out the online application to get your MMJ card, you'll also have to submit payment. Qualifying consumers are required to pay $150 for either their first-ever medical marijuana card or in order to renew a current MMJ card. Snap participants only have to pay $75 if they qualify.

Caregivers have a $200 fee for both the sign up and the renewal of their card. For every consumer, caregivers need to have one card. For example, a caregiver with four cardholder needs four MMJ cards. They are able to legally care for up to five cardholders.

For later use, cardholders have to pay $10 to make changes or replace their medical marijuana card. Down the road, when you have less than 90 days of eligibility left on your current MMJ card and you would like to renew your medical marijuana card, you will just have to download and submit the renewal form, then pay the same $150, $75, or $200 application fee. Additionally, you will also need a new doctor's recommendation, updated photo, and a current Patient Attestation Form.

Step 4: Using Your Medical Marijuana Card

Once the online application is approved and you have your medical marijuana card, you are officially an MMJ cardholder. As someone who is legally able to own and consume cannabis, there are a few regulations and entitlements.

As an Arizona medical consumer, you’re able to own two and a half ounces of usable marijuana. If you wish to grow medical marijuana, you have to disclose this on your online application form and must live at least 25 miles away from a dispensary. You are able to cultivate and grow up to twelve cannabis plants. They have to be housed in a locked and contained facility.

Know the law

Medical marijuana cannot be consumed in public, including at dispensaries. This is a violation of federal laws, which still consider cannabis illegal. When using your MMJ, do so at home or at a private residence. Private health care facilities, such as nursing homes or hospitals, are likely have their own sets of rules about cannabis and if it is acceptable to consume it on the property or not.

Remember: it’s illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana, and lighting up in the car is against the law. And since your medical marijuana card is specific to Arizona, that’s the only place it is considered valid; you cannot cross borders with your weed to a different state. The penalties are severe – medical consumers can face both local and federal drug charges when crossing state lines.