In order to legally purchase medical cannabis, commonly referred to as marijuana, in Arizona you are require to hold a valid MMJ card. The process for obtaining a card is fairly straightforward, but it isn’t necessarily simple and there are several things you will need to do before the state will issue you a card. However, provided you qualify, by precisely following the steps we’ve laid out in this comprehensive guide you will be able to successfully apply and obtain your Arizona medical marijuana card. There is also a frequently-asked questions section at the end of the guide that will address some of the most commonly asked medical-marijuana related questions in the state of Arizona.
Understanding the Medical Marijuana Law in Arizona
The process for obtaining a MMJ card requires a recommendation from an Arizona-licensed healthcare practitioner. You cannot get a card without this recommendation.
On November 2, 2010 Arizona voters approved Proposition 203, commonly called the “Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.” The passing of Proposition 203 suspended all Arizona state-level criminal penalties for the possession and use of medical cannabis.
Proposition 203 also mandated a registration and renewal system regulated by the Arizona Department of Health Services to track patients who qualify to legally purchase medical marijuana. However, the qualification is based on obtaining a recommendation from an Arizona-licensed physician.
In order to receive an Arizona medical-cannabis card you must be able to prove you are an Arizona resident. This will require an Arizona driver’s license or state photo ID, passport or some other form that shows proof of residency, like a utility bill or bank statement.
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Arizona
Step 1: Have a Qualifying Condition
In order to be eligible for a medical cannabis card you must have been diagnosed with a “qualifying condition” that has been granted legal protection under Arizona Proposition 203. These conditions must be regarded as “severe,” “debilitating,” or “life-threatening. These conditions include:
• Alzheimer’s disease.
• Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS.
• Crohn’s Disease.
• Hepatitis C.
• HIV or AIDS.
Additionally, any legitimate medical condition that is diagnosed as “chronic” or “debilitating,” or if the treatment for that condition may produce serious side effects, may also be regarded as a qualifying condition. These conditions include:
• Cachexia, or wasting syndrome.
• Chronic pain.
• Severe nausea.
• Seizures, including those caused by epilepsy.
• Muscle spasms. including those caused by multiple sclerosis.
Step 2: Getting a Recommendation
If your primary-care provider isn’t willing to fill out the recommendation form for medical cannabis you will need to find another Arizona State licensed physician who will. There are numerous cannabis-specific doctor’s offices and clinics throughout Arizona. If you don’t have a personal healthcare provider you can visit one of Arizona’s over 400 healthcare clinics located throughout the state. However, be aware, if you do not have insurance this can be an expensive part of the process.
Unlike some states, Arizona doesn’t supply a list of cannabis-recommending doctors, so you will need to do the legwork yourself. However, it is not required that the recommending doctor be the same doctor who made the original diagnosis of the qualifying medical condition. Additionally, any healthcare practitioner licensed as a physician in Arizona may provide the recommendation, including naturopathic and homeopathic doctors.
Step 3: Medical Records
If you are not getting a recommendation from your regular doctor, you will need to send the recommending physician your complete medical history and records prior to your initial exam. By law, your current healthcare provider’s office is required to release your complete medical history within 30 days of you requesting it.
Step 4: Meet with Your Healthcare Provider
To apply for an Arizona medical marijuana card your physician must fill out and sign an official Arizona Department Health Services medical-marijuana certification on your behalf. Any type of doctor licensed to practice medicine in Arizona who has an established “physician-patient relationship” with you is eligible to fill out the certification form. However, it must be an Arizona licensed healthcare practitioner and it cannot be signed by a doctor licensed outside of Arizona. Also, your doctor may not just provide a written recommendation, as the Arizona Department Health Services will only accept a properly filled out and signed official certification form.
Step 5: Gather Your Documents
In addition to your doctor-signed official medical cannabis form you will need the following documents:
• A valid government-issued photo ID, such as an Arizona State driver’s license or identification card, an Arizona State registry identification card or a U.S. passport. Note that if your ID is dated before October 1, 1996 you will also need to provide either a U.S. birth certificate or a U.S. Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship.
• A separate photograph from your government issued ID not taken more than 60-calendar days prior to the submission of your application. The photo must be two- by two-inches square with a plain white or off-white background and taken in natural color. It must show an unobstructed frontal view of your face without a hat or scarf.
• A signed and fully filled out Patient Attestation Form.
• SNAP documentation, if you are currently receiving electronic benefits that proves you are currently participating in the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services Assistance Program.
Once the physician’s medical recommendation and all accompanying documents are ready, the next step is to register with the Arizona Department of Health Services and proceed with the medical marijuana online application.
Step 5: Fill Out the Online Application
All documentation, including your physician-signed recommendation form, must be scanned into PDF format and submitted online; hand delivered applications will not be accepted. If you aren’t tech-savvy enough, the staff at a public library will help you for free or for a fee and most office-supply stores.
Consult the Arizona Medical Marijuana Qualifying Patient checklist for the latest up-to-date list of requisite application materials. Note there is a separate application for minors, under 18 years of age. There is also a separate application for designated caregivers, such as home-health aides, who are submitting the application on behalf of their patients.
Step 6: Wait for Approval
If you feel your application is taking too long, you may contact the Arizona Department of Health Services for additional information. Their address is:
Arizona Department of Health Services
Medical Marijuana Program
150 North 18th Avenue
Phoenix, Arizona 85007
You can also easily track the status of your medical cannabis card application online at azdhs.gov
Arizona MMJ Card Costs
The state offers a reduced-fee program for low-income Arizona residents who wish to apply for a medical cannabis card. If you can provide documentation that you receive assistance, such as SNAP, face financial hardship or are in a low-income bracket you may be able to apply for a reduced fee. The costs for applying for a medical marijuana card in Arizona are as follows:
• $150: Initial online application fee or renewal card.
• $75: For eligible SNAP participants.
• $500: Initial or a renewal card for a designated caregiver. Caregivers are required to apply for a separate card for each patient under their care, up to a maximum of five patients.
• $1,000 Initial dispensary registration certificate.
• $2,500: Renewal dispensary registration certificate.
• $5,000: Initial or renewal card for a marijuana dispensary agent.
• $10: Fee to change a dispensary or cultivation facility location or if you need to change or replace a registry identification card.
Note: Patients also have to incur the cost of having the recommendation form renewed by their doctor each year in order to have their cards renewed.
Below is a list of the most frequently asked questions about learning how to get a medical card in AZ. You can contact the personnel at the Arizona Department of Health Services if you still have any questions.
- Question: Can I apply in person at the ADHS office, or do applications have to be submitted online?
Answer: All applications must be submitted online; no walk-ins are allowed.
- Question: How long does it take to receive my medical-marijuana identification card?
Answer: ADHS will typically issues your MMJ card with 10 working days after your application has been approved.
- Question: May I grow my own medical marijuana in Arizona?
Answer: You may grow your own marijuana plants provided you declare your intention to do so on your application form. Additionally, your legal residence must be more than 25 miles from the nearest state-licensed dispensary.
- Question: If approved, how much cannabis can medical-marijuana patients have in their possession?
Answer: Under Arizona law, allowable amounts of marijuana approved patients may possess are:
• Two and a half (2.5) ounces of “usable” cannabis.
• Provided the patient’s registry-identification card authorizes cultivation of marijuana, approved patients may grow up to 12 marijuana plants if the plants are located inside an enclosed and locked facility.
- Question: What is the renewal process for an Arizona medical-marijuana card?
Answer: To renew your Arizona medical-marijuana card you will need to download the official form from the ADHS website. Renewals can only be made if the current card will expire in less than 90 days. The renewal fee is the same as for the original application. You will also need to submit the following documents:
• An updated physician certification form.
• A new photograph taken not more than 60 calendar days prior to submitting your renewal application.
• A new signed and dated Patient Attestation Form.
• Current SNAP eligibility, if applicable.
• A copy of your identification, only if your name has changed since your last application submission.
- Question: Can I use medical cannabis anywhere in the State of Arizona?
Answer: According to Arizona law, a qualifying patient is not permitted to consume medical marijuana at a dispensary, but may consume infused products at other locations. Qualifying patients may not smoke marijuana in public or other specified places. Qualifying patients residing in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, adult day healthcare or hospice facilities also must follow any facility-imposed restriction.
- Question: Is it legal to consume medical cannabis in my vehicle?
Answer: No, not while driving. Patients cannot operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana. Additionally, even if you are not driving, it may be considered illegal consumption in a public place, depending on where the vehicle is located.
- Question: Is it legal to transport medical marijuana outside the State of Arizona?
Answer: Technically, no. As it is a federal-controlled substance, crossing state lines with marijuana is illegal. Even if neighboring states also allow medical marijuana, crossing state lines could result in federal charges of drug trafficking. If you have to travel outside of Arizona, contact the health department of the state you are traveling to find out what the medical-marijuana laws are there.