Medical Cards and Cannabis: A History

Cannabis has come a long way in recent years, with numerous states legalizing recreational use. However, many states are still medical only or have a medical program that preceded their recreational one. Today we’ll take a look at the history of the medical marijuana card and how it still applies to the current cannabis industry.

What is a Cannabis Medical Card?

are cannabis medical cards still necessary

Before we dive into the history of the medical cards, let’s first explain what they are. A medical marijuana card, also known as a medical cannabis card or MMID, is a state-issued identification card that allows patients to legally access medical marijuana for the treatment of certain qualifying conditions. The card serves as proof that the holder is a registered medical marijuana patient and is protected under state law.

History of the Medical Cannabis Card

The use of medical marijuana can be traced back thousands of years, but it wasn't until the 1990s that the concept of a medical marijuana card was introduced. The first state to implement a medical marijuana card system was California in 1996, when voters approved the Compassionate Use Act, also known as Proposition 215. This landmark piece of legislation allowed patients with certain qualifying conditions, such as AIDS, cancer, and glaucoma, to legally use and access medical marijuana with the recommendation of a licensed physician.

The use of medical marijuana cards has since spread to many other states, with 33 states and the District of Columbia now having some form of medical marijuana program. The cards are typically issued by the state health department or a designated state agency, and are required to be carried by patients at all times in order to legally possess and use marijuana for medical purposes. These programs are made possible by a combination of state and federal laws, including the Rohrabacher–Farr amendment, which prohibits the Department of Justice from using federal funds to interfere with state medical marijuana programs. 

What Do You Need to Get a Medical Card?

legalization of medical cannabis

In order to obtain a medical marijuana card, patients typically need to obtain a recommendation from a licensed physician and apply for the card through the relevant state agency. The specific requirements and processes for obtaining a medical marijuana card vary from state to state, but typically involve an evaluation of the patient's medical history and a determination that they have a qualifying condition that can be treated with medical cannabis.

Those looking for a quick and efficient way to obtain a medical card should check out NuggMD. They operate in several states and make it easy to obtain a medical cannabis prescription online through registered health practitioners. Once your prescription has been approved, your medical marijuana recommendation will be available immediately, and your hard copy will be mailed the same day.

Are Medical Cards Still Needed Today?

Having a medical marijuana card in a state that has legalized recreational cannabis use provides several benefits, even if recreational cannabis is also available without a card. Some of the benefits of having a medical marijuana card include:

Access to Higher Potency Products

Medical marijuana patients often have access to higher potency products and a wider variety of strains that may not be available to recreational users.

Lower Taxes

Medical marijuana products may be subject to lower taxes, making them more affordable for patients.

Age Requirement

In some states, medical marijuana cards may allow adults ages 18 to 20 to access medical cannabis, whereas recreational use is restricted to adults over the age of 21.

Legal Protection

Having a medical marijuana card provides legal protection for patients, who are protected under state law from prosecution for the possession and use of medical cannabis.


Medical marijuana cards protect patient privacy, as the information contained on the card is protected under state and federal privacy laws.

Home Cultivation

In some states, medical marijuana cardholders may be able to legally cultivate a certain number of cannabis plants for personal use, which may not be permitted for recreational users.

Do You Need a Med Card to Buy CBD?

cbd does not require a medical cannabis license

The ability to buy CBD without a medical marijuana license depends on the state and the type of CBD product in question. In some states, adults can purchase hemp-derived CBD products without a medical marijuana card, as long as the products contain less than 0.3% THC (the psychoactive compound found in marijuana). These products are considered to be legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp and hemp-derived products on a federal level.

However, in states where marijuana is not fully legalized, even hemp-derived CBD products may require a medical marijuana card for purchase. Additionally, products that contain higher levels of THC, including those made from marijuana, may only be available for purchase with a medical marijuana card or in states where recreational marijuana use is legal. It's important to check the laws in your state and to consult with a healthcare professional before using any type of CBD product.

Do You Need a Med Card to Buy Infused Flower Products?

Those looking for a psychoactive experience without the need of a medical card can search for and try out infused flower products. Infused flower is created by adding THC derivatives to hemp flower. The product then has the ability to create a “high” while still being considered legal under the Farm Bill as long as the flower tests under the 0.3% THC limit.

E1011 Labs’ Ari53 line uses infused flower to create an out of this world experience that can be purchased by anyone 21+. Simply add to cart, purchase, and you’re ready to try out the next generation of cannabis infused products.

Future of Medical Cannabis Cards

states legalizing cannabis

The use of medical marijuana cards remains a controversial issue, with some advocating for increased access to medical cannabis for patients and others concerned about potential abuse of the system. However, the continued growth and expansion of medical marijuana card programs reflects a growing recognition of the potential benefits of medical cannabis for patients with a wide range of conditions. 

Check out our Daily Dose Blogs to learn more about CBD, THC, and the world of cannabis. And make sure to check out our CBD-rich stelo™ to explore the benefits of CBD for yourself, no medical card required.