On August 27, 2019, the Arizona Department of Health amended the rules regarding all medical cannabis cards issued in the state as of that date. Among these changes, MMJ card renewals became valid for two years instead of just one. As of this August 2021 writing, many patients who received an initial or renewal MMJ card in Arizona prior to that date are now coming up for renewal.
Why Renew a Medical Cannabis Card
Now that recreational cannabis is legalized in Arizona, you may wonder if it’s even worth renewing your MMJ card. There are several benefits, however, of having a medical marijuana card in Arizona that simply having access to recreational marijuana does not provide.
For medical cannabis, there is no age minimum.
For recreational cannabis, like for alcohol, you must be at least 21 years old.
Arizona dispensaries have separate entrances at separate doors with separate lines: one for medical cannabis cardholders and one for recreational cannabis customers.
For medical cannabis, lines are typically short, which means short wait times and speedy purchases.
For recreational cannabis, lines are typically much longer, which means longer wait times, both to get in the door and to complete a purchase.
Quantity Limits – Purchase and Possession
Medical cannabis cardholders can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana in any form every two weeks and possess up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana in any form at any given time.
Recreational cannabis users can buy up to one ounce of recreational marijuana, with no greater than five grams being in the form of cannabis extracts or concentrations, in a single transactions. They also can’t possess any more than that amount at any one time.
The Arizona Department of Health Services considers possession of any more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana, medical or recreational, of which 12.5 grams or less is in concentrate or extract form a petty offense.
Medical cannabis cardholders can buy cannabis and all cannabis products with any degree of potency.
Recreational cannabis users can buy cannabis with any degree of potency, but can only buy edibles containing up to 10 mg of THC per serving and 100 mg per package.
Cost – Prices and Taxes
AZDHS expects medical cannabis prices to remain the same after recreational dispensaries open for business. As for taxes, medical marijuana purchases are only subject to state and local taxes.
Prices for recreational cannabis are, as of yet, unknown, though they are likely to be significantly higher than those for medical cannabis. Taxes on recreational marijuana include state and local taxes as well as a 16% excise tax.
Medical cannabis patients can only cultivate their own cannabis if they live too far away from the nearest dispensary to reasonably make the trip for purchases. If a medical cannabis patient cultivates his or her own medical cannabis, however, he or she is restricted to a certain number of plants and harvested cannabis in possession. Additionally, patients cultivating their own medical cannabis cannot also purchase medical cannabis from a dispensary. It’s one or the other.
Recreational cannabis users can cultivate up to six plants at an individual’s primary residence and up to 12 plants where at least two people 21 years of age or older reside.
Medical cannabis cardholders have some employment protections under Arizona’s medical marijuana laws, specifically against employer discrimination. This means an employer cannot choose to drug test known medical cannabis cardholders but not other employees.
An employer is permitted to operate a drug-free workplace in Arizona, but the employer must treat all employees equally under that policy. Furthermore, a medical marijuana patient cannot be reprimanded or terminated for failing a drug test for marijuana. Recreational cannabis users don’t even have those levels of employment protections.
No worker, however, can be impaired on the job from performing his or her duties as expected, nor can he or she be in possession of cannabis, even medical cannabis, on-the-job, whether inside the workplace or working off-site. If a worker violates these rules, an employer does have the right to issue and take appropriate action, even if that worker is a legal medical marijuana patient.
Using cannabis in public is illegal for recreational users and medical marijuana cardholders alike. Arizona law now treats the violation, however, as a petty offense rather than a felony, as it used to.
Renew Your Arizona MMJ Card Online
For as long as the COVID-19 pandemic is around, Arizona has suspended its requirement for initial required visits with MMJ doctors to get your first medical marijuana card in the state to be conducted in person at the doctor’s office. Now, you can meet with a doctor, get the authorization you need for a new or renewal medical marijuana card in Arizona and even sign up for your new or updated card all online via telemedicine.
When you do decide renew your AZ medical cannabis card online, do it with affordablecertification.com a new startup that allows you to get your initial Arizona medical marijuana card and subsequently renew medical marijuana card completely online.
At Affordable Certification, all you need to do to renew your Arizona medical marijuana card is sign up and schedule an appointment with one of Affordable Certification’s licensed MMJ doctors. There’s no risk in using the service either, since, if you don’t qualify for a new or renewal MMJ card in Arizona, your doctor’s visit is free.
Once you’ve received the doctor’s approval to renew medical marijuana card, all you need to do to complete the process is register your renewal on the AZDHS website.