California’s MMID System Is Failing Patients

Patients must buy almost $3,000 per year to break even on the ID cost

Virtually none of the estimated hundreds of thousands of California patients entitled to purchase tax-free cannabis are getting those savings—because the state’s medical marijuana ID card system has collapsed, new data from the California Department of Public Health shows.

In a state of 40 million people, just 4,551 patients had the official medical marijuana ID card, according to CDPH totals for the fiscal year 2018-2019, which ended June 30.

Adult-use legalization—with its 600 stores and delivery services, plus the legal right to grow at home—has made the card partially obsolete for adults 21 and over. Those seeking the official ID card say that it’s costly and time-consuming to obtain and often not worth the hassle. One of the country’s oldest medical cannabis card programs might need to be retooled or scrapped.

“Is the program serving the people it should? No,” said Debby Goldsberry, operator of the Magnolia Wellness dispensary in Oakland, and an ID cardholder. “The cost is too high. People don’t buy that volume of cannabis, and there’s no value to them.”

“It’s messed up,” said Michele Aldrich, a longtime San Francisco medical cannabis activist and ID cardholder.

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