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How to Apply for a Medical Marijuana ID Card in California

Applying for a medical marijuana ID card is becoming more common every day. However, this doesn't mean the decision to use medicinal cannabis should be taken lightly.

Before you decide that using medicinal marijuana is right for you, you should consult a physician you trust who is familiar with your medical history. Some things you and your physician will want to take into consideration are your existing medications, your long-term medical diagnosis, why your current medications are not sufficiently addressing your condition, and what results you hope to achieve through the use of medicinal marijuana.

Remember, the use of marijuana, even with a doctor's recommendation, is still considered a federal crime in the United States.

Although more and more states are making the move to legalize medical marijuana, it is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug, placing it in the same class as heroin, LSD, and Ecstasy. Although you may be following all the legal requirements in your state to use medical marijuana, you are still at risk for federal prosecution. Therefore, it is extremely important to follow your state and county application process by the book and keep your documentation on your person at all times.

My girlfriend tells me I am quite the activist. I guess I do get excited about things I really care about, such as helping people like my son have the freedom to choose how to treat their chronic pain. We choose to do so through lots of ice, ibuprofen, and medicinal marijuana. That's just our personal choice and one that works better for him than Vicodin, Percocet, oxycodone, or any other opiate-based pain reliever he has tried.

Patients holding a Medical Marijuana Identification card are exempt from sales tax on cannabis products in states where recreational pot use is legal.

Patients holding a Medical Marijuana Identification card are exempt from sales tax on cannabis products in states where recreational pot use is legal.

Talk to your doctor and see if you meet the following criteria.

Any patient (even a minor) with a serious medical condition can obtain a medical marijuana ID card. Qualifying conditions are:

  • AIDS,
  • anorexia,
  • arthritis,
  • cachexia,
  • cancer,
  • chronic pain,
  • glaucoma,
  • migraines,
  • seizures,
  • severe nausea,
  • persistent muscle spasms,
  • or any other chronic or persistent medical condition that limits their ability to conduct one or more major life activity as defined by the American Disability Act of 1990, or may cause harm if not alleviated.

Doctor's Written Documentation

Doctor's Written Documentation

Doctor's Written Documentation

How Do I Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card in California?

You must complete the Application/Renewal form (CDPH 9042) and provide the following information in order to receive an identification card. Submit both the CDPH 9042 and the following information to your county health department (or its designee).

1. Provide a government-issued photo identification card (such as a driver's license) issued to you.

  • If you are under the age of 18 and lack photographic identification, you may substitute a certified copy of your birth certificate in place of photo identification. If you designate a primary caregiver on your application form, your primary caregiver must present photographic identification at the same time you submit your application. A primary caregiver may use a certified birth certificate if they are under the age of 18 and lack government-issued photo identification.

2. Provide proof of your county residency with one of the following items:

  • A current rent/mortgage receipt or recent utility bill in your name bearing your current address within the county.
  • A current California motor vehicle registration in your name bearing your current address within the county.
  • A California Driver's License or a California Identification Card issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) bearing your current address within the listed county.

If you only possess a California Driver's License or California Identification Card with an older address listed outside the county, you may submit a DMV-issued Change of Address Certification Card (DL 43) listing your current address within the county when you present your identification. If you are less than 18 years of age, you may use any of the previously mentioned residency evidence belonging to your parent or legal guardian (if they also reside in the county).

3. Provide written documentation from your doctor recommending the use of medical marijuana to treat one or more serious medical conditions you suffer from. These include:

  • Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS),
  • anorexia,
  • arthritis,
  • cachexia,
  • cancer,
  • chronic pain,
  • glaucoma,
  • migraines,
  • persistent muscle spasms, including, but not limited to, spasms associated with multiple sclerosis,
  • seizures, including, but not limited to, seizures associated with epilepsy
  • severe nausea,
  • or any other chronic or persistent medical symptom that either substantially limits the ability of the person to conduct one or more major life activities as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 or, if not alleviated, such chronic or persistent medical symptoms may cause serious harm to your safety or your physical or mental health.

4. Your doctor may use the Written Documentation of Patient's Medical Records form (CDPH 9044) to serve as the medical documentation.

5. The administering agency is required to verify an applicant's medical documentation. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that the authorized medical release of information is on file with their medical provider.

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6. Contact your local county health department for office locations and identification card fees.

7. Medi-Cal participation at the time of application entitles the applicant to a 50 percent reduction in fees. Application fees are nonrefundable.

8. If you submit an incomplete application and/or fail to provide all the previously mentioned information, your application will be denied and you may be restricted from reapplying for six months.

You Are Officially Enrolled in a Medical Marijuana Program. Now What?

Protect your legal rights. Laws and procedures vary from state to state. Americans for Safe Access offers legal information and support relating to medical marijuana.

Marijuana has been legalized in 31 states and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico.

Marijuana has been legalized in 31 states and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico.

Which States Have Recognized Legalization of Medical Marijuana?

In the United States, 31 states (listed in the table below) plus the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have recognized medical marijuana.

In addition, recreational marijuana is now legal in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia. It has been decriminalized in numerous other states.

U.S. States and Territories With Medical Marijuana

31 U.S. states and territories currently have legal medical marijuana.








District of Columbia











New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Dakota





Rhode Island



West Virginia


Puerto Rico

Note on Recreational Marijuana

As of January 1, 2018, it is no longer a requirement to obtain a medical marijuana card in order to legally possess marijuana in California.

My Personal Experience With Marijuana

Medical marijuana, cannabis cards, taxing marijuana, legalizing marijuana—pot seems to be on the minds of a lot of people these days. I do not smoke weed at this point in my life. I don't care for how I react to it, and it doesn't bring me the same pleasure it did when I was younger. However, I do believe that there is a large population of people who benefit from the effects of marijuana, and my son falls into that category.

I support the right of individuals to choose to smoke marijuana as a means of improving their quality of life. Some of those nearest and dearest to me are individuals who benefit from making this choice. Unfortunately, they face persecution and a lack of understanding due to the federal government's classification of marijuana as an illegal substance.

As we all know, marijuana is a hot topic in our country. Right now, the focus is slowly beginning to shift from the war on this "drug" to the potential monetary benefits that local and state governments could realize through the legalization of the product and the resulting taxes.

Oakland, CA has taken a step in what I consider to be the right direction and moved to tax medical marijuana. In fact, it is the medical dispensaries who really moved to tax themselves for the benefit of their community. I can only hope that the movement grows, and our state and federal governments come to their senses and allow the cultivation of marijuana to become an asset, rather than throwing tax dollars down the drain fighting it.

I grew up during the 1970s and 1980s. During this time, I have seen people use and abuse many different drugs. From alcohol to acid, cocaine to crank, marijuana to "shrooms," I have seen individuals of all ages abuse drugs. I was a recreational marijuana smoker during most of my teens and continued until I was married. I drank like a fish during this time. I experimented with various recreational drugs, and never really found anything that I really enjoyed, or felt compelled to use.

Out of everything I experienced, by far the drug that I saw do the most damage was the one drug that is legal in the United States, and that is alcohol. In high school, a very good friend of mine was convicted of manslaughter after he lost control of his car while drinking and his girlfriend lost her life. My mother died as a direct result of alcohol abuse when I was 22. My ex-husband lost his job and custody of our children due to alcohol abuse. I have several aunts and uncles who are alcoholics. There was a point in my life I nearly became one. I can say from experience, walking away from alcohol was 100 times harder than walking away from marijuana.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Everyone Has an Opinion! What's Yours?

My name is Dee giat on December 17, 2016:

I have ra and osteo arthritis take biological but my back still hurts me, hard to walk because of it! Can I get a card in pa. Where I live?tell me what to do next! Please!

FAKEIDMAN on June 15, 2015:

Some of the links they list at you can get a fake card. Option for fun to show friends.

Tammy Chappell on November 06, 2014:


crystal on September 24, 2014:

I think they need to legalize medical marijuana because I suffer from pstd, ADHD, ocd, depression, sleep isoma, and bipolar. I use to smoke marijuana back was I was 19 and it helped my conditions 100%. I never had to take a pill. Now I'm on all these pills and I don't feel great taking my medication. I have to so the county doesn't take my baby!!

anonymous on June 26, 2013:

@anonymous: The problem is Pharmaceutical companies and the votes they rally (including peripheral companies of Pharmaceutical support etc) because a weed that was here before humans, free in the environment, could put some lines of product out of business, lowering stock prices and causing economic waves that are less acceptable in our society than a human suffering.

Amazing since I went the full route in the late sixties and seventies and even dealt several drugs, have first hand knowledge now at nearly sixty years old, and I can't be B.S.'d about "Reefer Madness". Pot was the only thing me and others around me were safe with. Everything else made me loopy, ESPECIALLY the legal drug ALCOHOL. They know it...they're all about my age and saw it first hand (the "protectors" of the universe that is) and know pot mellows a person to negligible self or other damaging properties.

anonymous on May 21, 2013:

I have Glaucoma real bad and I'm already disable but when u hurt and you r losing your sight and there is a plant called Marijuana that will help me and can't get it cause it's not legal in Arkansas.They will give u all kinds of pain pill that I don't want and wouldn't help anyway so if u can help in finding away to get this medical weed I would appreaiate my e-mail

anonymous on April 13, 2013:

Ibam a 2 time cancer survivor. While in the military, the doctors failed to properly diagnosis me on several occasions. Now I am in constant pain, often I'll and suffer from nausea and frequent vomiting. I have never been a supporter of marijuana, but modern medicine has not helped me and often results in negative a d extreme side effects. I am ready to try something that may actually improve my quality of life instead of hindering it!

anonymous on February 16, 2013:

I live in Illinois and was wondering how come e are forced to take perscription drugs like Oxycodone,MSContin,oxycontin,and even duragesic patches which is hard on your kidneys and way 2 many are dying from these so called legal drugs.I've been trying to get the Doctor here to write me a script for medical marijuana because i've tried it and it really does work better and longer without going through withdrawals or health risks.Is their any steps i can take to get this legally here? If not is it soon going to be legalized here in Illinois,because if not i'm going to move to a legal state..I'm tired of taking drugs with big health risks.I'm 44 and been paralyzed since i was 18 and the older i get the more meds i need to control the pain and now i'm use to it all.Signed tired and run down in Illinois

anonymous on December 04, 2012:

I suffer from Crohns Disease which I've had for 28yrs! Have had 10 resections, leaving me with less than 5 ft of bowel. I suffer with extreme nausea, weakened Immune System, daily cronic abdominal pain as well as constant bouts of diarreah! I also suffer with severe migraines due to 3 herniated disc in neck and upper back, which I have also had surgery for! I am considering applying for a medical marijuana card so that it is legal for me to use marijuana if/when needed. Nausea is daily and is so severe, causes lack of appetite, very low weight and weakened immunities! A person should have the choice whether to use this drug or not! Not ALL want to be on prescription pills that most times, don't do squat to help!

anonymous on December 03, 2012:

@anonymous: I too am bi polar, it sometimes feels like my chest feels like it going to explode. The anxiety from my lows r so debilitating. That I can't function,think or make simple decisions. Smoking pot is the only thing that calms me. And still allows me to function.My meds like depokote, klonopin,carbatrol have always made me so tired.Then they make me sleep all day.which makes me depressed. Its a constant cycle.I've been bipolar since 2001 and have been on almost every drug for bipolar. Nothing has worked. I never feel balanced. Except for when I smoke pot.

OUTFOXprevention1 on November 23, 2012:

Interesting topic. Thanks for the lens.

anonymous on September 29, 2012:

Idiot government, idiot authorities, and idiot people that don't understand why people may choose to use marijuana, medical or not. Those are the reasons why Chris' grandfather can't have some relief in a very very very difficult time in life.

anonymous on September 16, 2012:

your blog post is excellent...i m looking for this information...thnku for the post

JMorgan21 on August 16, 2012:

Check out the YouTube video on juicing raw Cannabis. If it isnât heated you can consume a lot more while avoiding psychoactive part (as long as the cannabis isnât heated) and benefits are said to be fantastic.

anonymous on July 21, 2012:

@anonymous: I agree with you there Shalon.I just recently was diagnosed with glaucoma myself.The drops given to me that I have to take,will make my eye lash's longer and change my eye color.Though not too bad,but being a guy,I don't want longer eye lash's I would perfer to be able to just be able to smoke medical marijuana.However they keep letting the bills in minnesota be denied.I mean seriously they allow weed to be tanked up there with LSD,and other harsh drugs.When it's a natural plant and what's its listed with is man made chemicals.So I hope one day they will wake up and legalize it.So people don't need to find some means of cutting eye lash's that can get in your eye or having your eye color change.

DoozieMom LM (author) on July 03, 2012:

@anonymous: I think it is unfortunate that so many people are restricted to prescription medications that carry so many side effects, as well as forcing a juggling act when you have more than one medication and they react poorly with one another.

DoozieMom LM (author) on July 02, 2012:

@anonymous: Chris - I am sorry about your grandfather. It is frustrating because there are so many closed minds. Not only in the government, but potential patients as well. I know several older women who suffer from things such as RA and Lupus, who I feel may experience some relief with medical marijuana. It is unfortunate that they won't even consider trying it. Anther problem we have are those who try to profit from the situation, and use collectives as a cover for illegal growing operations. This only harms those with legitimate needs, and makes it much harder for the pre-medicinal marijuana movement to move forward.

anonymous on June 28, 2012:

My grandfather has cancer and the anxiety is killing him faster than the cancer. He has tried paxil zoloft lexapro ativan xanax valium and many more but his anxiety causes him to vomit and sit in the dark. He is 87 years old and cannot even try medical marijuanna to see if it helps because we live in NYS.

DoozieMom LM (author) on June 25, 2012:

@glassdabber: Even having a card does not ensure ease of access or affordability. I know many people who live in other states who express the same wish, access to medicinal marijuana. Someday...

DoozieMom LM (author) on June 25, 2012:

@anonymous: thank you :)

anonymous on May 25, 2012:

@rtsurvivor lm: There's more to "this funny weed" then u know. First off those looking for the true medicinal effect don't smoke it, they cook it down in butter or oil. More thc this way. And read some up to date lit and not dawn on own late 60's u may remember. Thc can reduce tutors, bring back life, love, child hood and much more? When u may have to watch one of ur own suffer anything that may help... Even the littlest gives out hope. Open ur mind, shut ur mouth, and don't be so sarcastic u late in life closed down, shut in, wacked out nobody

glassdabber on May 19, 2012:

Useful Lens. Too bad you can't apply in IDAHO.

anonymous on April 10, 2012:

I have Rapid Cycling Bi-Polar and when I get manic and become to hyper and unstable marijuana helps me stay even and balanced and brings me back down to a safe level. To be denied a natural weed that promotes good help but be made to purchase man-made medicine which has many side effects is insane. America needs to stop it...and wake up !!!

anonymous on March 20, 2012:

I would like to get one of these cards to go with my new vaporizer man... cool lens dude.

anonymous on February 22, 2012:

good Lens !!

Legalize it !!

grow shop

GoodMarijuana on December 07, 2011:

Awesome post! Very detailed. I am a patient myself and it is always great to find informative lens' similar to mine.

anonymous on October 22, 2011:

I am 23 and I am bipolar and adhd me and my doc has found marijuana is the only thung that keeps me calm and lets me focus... Please approve medical marijuana in nc

rtsurvivor lm on October 07, 2011:

There is a lot of talk about this funny weed. If it actually helps someone then it's fine. However, for the most part I see it as nothing more than a drug that's making producers rich at the expense of others. Someone, anyone, answer this question. If sucking on a cigarette puts crud in your lungs then what happens to the smoke from the "Medical Joint"?

There is something really wrong with this "Medical Myth" I knew a lot of guys in Vietnam that smoked the weed to help them. It didn't help. Their names are on the "Wall." It will mess your mind up but I wish all that suck that junk into their lungs the best of luck; they're going to need it.


anonymous on October 01, 2011:

I hope the availabilty of medical marijuana will spread to more states. It is insane that the federal government and most states denies chronically ill patients the opportunity to find relief. Thanks for a great lens. All the best to you and your family.

anonymous on May 15, 2011:

you know i sat down and thought what if our government would want to control marijuana y not charge people yearly for a card to grow it then it would make things a lot easier our country would clime out of dept.

anonymous on May 11, 2011:

I'm from New Jersey and I think this is a fantastic resource; can I get some info on how to apply for Medical Marijuana.

anonymous on May 11, 2011:

I'm from New Jersey and I think this is a fantastic resource; can I get some info on how to apply for Medical Marijuana.

MarkFashionista on April 07, 2011:

Excellent lens!

netlawman0 on March 26, 2011:

Brilliant post i really like your post you really have brilliant mind layout layout is very nice its interesting keep it up .


kevfour on February 24, 2011:

as a patient on the east coast I love your lens! Im glad to hear about your son and that he has found a way to manage his condition. MMJ also helps me manage my chronic condition (chrohns). Way to spread the love and awareness, we have come so long from reefer madness... My lens is about maximizing you cannabinoid receptors, check it out,

anonymous on December 08, 2010:

I am an army wife but I have cronic pain and am about to put an elec. stem in my spine. I currently am not a pot smoker... But the only choice I have left after this will be a morphine pump... I am 30 years old, I will deal with this the rest of my life! But being part of the army will I ever be leagel to have medical marijuana??? I am in TX now, which is a state that still has laws about woppin the shit out of ur kids and shoot first ask Q. later. Why would we not have medical marijuana legal???

damagedinc on September 30, 2010:

Very cool lens!

SafeCard LM on August 07, 2010:

Great informative lens!

I have a relative that uses medical Cannabis, medical researches are done to justify the significance of marijuana as medicinal benefits.

anonymous on June 28, 2010:

anonymous on June 26, 2010:

@jakealoo: medical marijuana needs to be taxed it can help us grow from our shitty econ

SafeCard LM on June 22, 2010:


Just thought I would atop by and let you know what I thougt about this.

I don't think it is a very good idea. I think it will only help those with a drug problem. Thanks for the lens it was very good to read about you did a good job talking a bout this issue.

jklventures on June 07, 2010:

This is an awesome lens! Very informative. There's a new site that is showing people how to get Medical Marijuana as well. It's . Check it out if you still need your card!

anonymous on May 20, 2010:

Interesting lens, and well done.

A controversial topic. Would love to see a debate.


RCCOMPASSION on April 29, 2010:

Hey! This lens is so informative and practical! Here's mine:

RCCOMPASSION on April 29, 2010:

Great lens! I added you to my lens on /CaliforniaMedicalMarijuana. It covers the business aspect. See you around!!!

anonymous on January 19, 2010:

This is a great and informational lens. I am an advocate for the legalization of Marijuana. I, too, have a special needs son, also injured in an accident(run over by a forklift from the waist down). It forever changed all of our lives(5 children), our state does NOT EVEN have medical marijuana options available unless terminal. We are planning to move to a state that does since not only does he have a need for this medicine, i do, as well. I have had arthritis since childhood, and am allergic to manmade pharmaceuticals, then was in a Jeep rollover(hit and run by a drunk driver, IMAGINE THAT!(he was in a friends car that had no insurance, was on probation, and he went to prison (I was on my way to the hospital to pick up my son after his 78th surgery! IT WAS NOT A GOOD DAY!) I've been in pain since and am unable to take even one OTC pain reliever without using "MY GOD GIVEN MEDICINE OF CHOICE" and even then, only one pill per week, so, you can see, MEDICAL MARIJUANA NEEDS TO BE LEGAL ALL OVER! It's just ridiculous to keep this natural resource from the people! Sorry to write a book about it (i won't be the first:))but, i, too, am considered passionate about this issue. Thanks for such a GREAT LENS! Check out my lens on Squidoo. Your lens has inspired me. =)

ChuckWagon61291 on October 14, 2009:

nice lense man i have a similar lense if you wanna check it out.

jakealoo on September 18, 2009:

I really like the way you made this lense. The layout is nice and makes you wanna scroll the whole way through which is always tough to do.

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