“How to get a medical marijuana card in Colorado” is a common question. The legalization of marijuana in Colorado includes permitting medical and recreational use of cannabis. However, medical uses of marijuana do require a medical marijuana card, which is also known as an MMJ card or a Red Card. Although legal adults with certain health conditions can purchase marijuana for health reasons without a medical marijuana card, obtaining one may be a consideration for many.
There are many reasons why a person would apply for a medical marijuana card, given they have certain medical conditions. One significant advantage is the lesser taxes on marijuana purchases for cardholders. Non-medical marijuana customers have to pay a 2.9% state sales tax, local sales tax and a 10% state marijuana sales tax with their purchase. However, an individual with an MMJ card does not have to pay the 10% state marijuana sales tax. Also, not only are there fewer taxes but having a Red Card means the person can purchase and/or grow more cannabis than the average customer. Those with a card can grow up to twelve plants and sometimes up to 16 sixteen plants depending on the area. They can also buy up to 2oz of cannabis products at a time while retail buyers are limited to 1oz per purchase. To add on to the financial and quantitative advantages, Red Card holders have access to medical-only counters and dispensaries. This means more options, greater chances of products being available and even access to high potency edibles. These advantages help make acquiring cannabis a much smoother process.
As previously explained, acquiring a Colorado MMJ card is a simple process designed to make acquiring cannabis a much easier and stress-free experience. To qualify, an individual must be over the age of eighteen, a legal resident of Colorado, and have at least one qualified medical condition. Minors can apply and receive a medical marijuana card if they have a qualified condition, and a designated caregiver who is over the age of eighteen and is a legal resident of Colorado. Some health conditions that allow patients to acquire an MMJ card include migraines, HIV/AIDS, severe nausea and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Individuals can apply for a medical marijuana card through an online application or, if no regular internet access is available, through mail. The online method is more convenient because applications are typically confirmed or denied within 1-3 business days while mail-in applications take 6-8 weeks to process. The processing and additional fees for both methods also vary slightly. For online applications, there is a $25 application processing fee. For mail-in applications, there is also a $25 application processing fee, but certified mailing fees also need to be considered with this method. However, individuals can also drop off their papers at the Colorado Department of Public Health to avoid mailing fees. The actual process of applying for a medical marijuana card is very similar online and through mail, but there are variances to note.
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Colorado via Online Application
Step 1: Create an Account on the Colorado Medical Marijuana Website
First, individuals need to register on the Colorado medical marijuana website to create a patient account. This account is where individuals will complete their application, upload any required forms and be able to renew their card when the expiration date approaches.
Step 2: Fill Out the Application
For the MMJ card application, the site requests personal information and details about marijuana use. Patients choose their preferred access to marijuana, whether it be cultivating their plants at home, having another individual grow the plants or purchasing cannabis at dispensaries. The Colorado medical marijuana site also has users decide if they would like to designate a caregiver to help manage their use and products. For minors, a caregiver is required. If a caregiver is to be involved in the process, there are required documents for the caregiver to complete online.
Step 3: Physician Evaluation and Certification
One of the requirements of the medical marijuana card application is a physician certification. Individuals applying for a Red Card need to have a licensed physician certify that they have a qualifying condition that can benefit from medical marijuana. An evaluation with a physician usually involves discussing the patient’s health conditions, qualifications and lifestyle to decide whether an MMJ card is appropriate. For minors, two physician certifications from two different providers are required. After gaining certification, patients need to upload the certification onto their patient accounts on the Colorado medical marijuana website.
Step 4: Payment and Approval
After the entire card application is complete, an application fee is paid through the same site either by credit, debit or electronic check. This payment includes the $25 processing fee. Once the payment is made, individuals wait 1-3 business days for approval or denial of their application.
Step 5: Acquire and Print the Colorado Medical Marijuana Card
Once an individual’s application is approved, the patient can print their card and now access cannabis with less hassle and stress.
Step 6: Renew a Colorado Medical Marijuana Card
Colorado Red Cards have an issue date and an expiration date that are both based on the day an application was approved. It is important to note the expiration date because it is recommended to begin the renewal process about 30 days prior. Doing so reduces the stress of reaching an expiration date and not having a valid card to use, and saves money by avoiding taxes and further expenses. Part of the renewal process is consulting with a licensed physician, again, for an updated certification to ensure that medical marijuana is still recommended for a patient’s condition. These physician certifications are only valid for one year so annual re-evaluations are needed as long as an MMJ card is held.
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Colorado via Mail-In Application
Step 1: Fill Out the Application
Just like the online method, Colorado medical marijuana card applicants need to fill out the application. The application can be found online and printed or it can be accessed at locations such as a licensed physician’s clinic.
Step 2: Caregiver Application
If a person would like a caregiver to help manage, the designated caregiver can register online. If this is completed, the patient needs to add the caregiver’s ID onto their application. The designated individual can also register through mail with a caregiver application. This application is sent with the medical marijuana card applicant’s documents. Later on, the caregiver will receive further instructions on how to identify their method of accessing the medical marijuana to the Marijuana Enforcement Division at the Colorado Department of Revenue. This process will take longer than the MMJ card applicant since there are two steps involved.
Step 3: Physician Evaluation and Certification
Applicants need to consult with a licensed and certified physician to discuss their health conditions, qualifications and lifestyle. As with all patients, the physician needs to confirm that medical marijuana use is suited for the presented medical condition. For minors, two physician certifications by two different providers need to be submitted. After the evaluation, the physician needs to submit the patient’s certification online and should provide a physical copy for the patient’s records. The copy of the certification is not sent through mail with the application as it will not be accepted.
Step 4: Payment
Mail-in applications require a $25 processing fee. Payments can be made either through a check or a money order made out to CDPHE. A fee waiver is also available on the CDPHE website if individuals qualify. Fees for certified mailing should also be considered in this step.
Step 5: Mail Application and Required Documents
Once the application is completed, the applicant needs to ensure they have an updated copy of their Colorado ID or driver’s license or a request to waive the proof of residency requirement. The MMJ card application, proof of Colorado residency or waiver, and the $25 payment needs to be sent through certified mail or dropped off at the Colorado Department of Public Health. Then, individuals wait 6-8 weeks for their documents to be processed and accepted or denied.
Step 6: Receive Medical Marijuana Card in the Mail
Applicants who apply through mail receive a physical MMJ card in the mail.
Step 7: Renew a Colorado Medical Marijuana Card
Like medical marijuana cards acquired online, physical cards have expiration dates based on the date their original application was approved. MMJ cardholders are required to renew their card annually as the physician certification is only valid for one year. To renew a card, individuals must send in another application through certified mail and have an updated physician certification submitted online. Individuals need to submit a renewal no sooner than 60 days of the expiration date stated on the card.