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Are our old medical marijuana ID cards useless now that everyone can buy legal marijuana? SF Evergreen investigates the new doctor’s orders.

While the clock was ticking to the January 1, 2018 legalization of marijuana for adults, SF Evergreen called all 30 pharmacies in San Francisco to ask if our California medical marijuana ID cards are still honored. We actually have 30 different, completely contradictory answers.

The 264 pages of California Bureau of Cannabis Control’s marijuana rules that went into effect on the first of the year were so poorly written that even law-abiding pharmacies with teams of powerful attorneys had no idea how to handle patients coming in with medical — marijuana cards.

Would they still be honored? Could cardholders be able to purchase the more potent, high-THC products not available to recreational buyers? Do medical patients still have to pay the nearly 25 percent sales tax charged to adult-use buyers? Marijuana dispensaries didn’t know, and overwhelmed state bureaucrats didn’t have the answers.

Now the dust has settled, the rules have been clarified and we now know for sure whether your old medical marijuana ID card is still useful for any discounts or special treatments. It is! But it also depends on what kind of medical marijuana ID card you have.

Most of us have the type of card we bought from a store or through a Skype session in which a doctor did a short evaluation and charged $60 to $70. In this issue of SF Evergreen. And these cards still entitle you to lots of goodies and privileges that recreational buyers don’t get.

Cardholders are still eligible for promotions such as the popular “free joint on your first visit” deal or other sample handouts that recreational customers can’t get by law. Medical marijuana card carriers can also purchase up to eight ounces of flowers daily, while regular adult-use buyers can purchase as little as one ounce per day.

Cardholders can also purchase edibles containing more than 100 milligrams of THC, and much more potent tinctures and concentrates that cannot be sold to those who do not have medical marijuana cards.

Yes, your pharmacy may have told you otherwise in the first or second week of January. You may have showed up with a valid card and still didn’t get these powerful products. That’s because some pharmacies were too careful with the new ones rules, such as they didn’t want to be quoted or fined.

These rules have now been clarified and cannabis retailers have a better understanding of the regulatory expectations. But this clarification also comes with one major setback for cardholders.

With your standard medical marijuana card, you no longer have to pay sales tax on cannabis. As with recreational buyers, most medical marijuana patients now have to pay 8.75 percent sales tax. That is on top of the new 15 percent tax that you also pay in San Francisco, for a hefty total of almost 25 percent.

There is one way out to pay the sales tax, and it requires you to other type of medical marijuana card: A state-issued card, considered the gold standard for medical marijuana evaluations. These are issued by your county’s Department of Health, cost $100, and they require a legitimate recommendation from your personal physician — not some “pot doc” you just chatted with on the Internet.

Your doctor will need to diagnose you with:have a serious medical condition to deserve that recommendation. Complaints of different types of gardens, such as anxiety, insomnia or snoring, probably won’t help. But that stern doctor’s recommendation, and $100 to the health department, will get you a card apologizing for paying sales tax on your drug.

Confused? Getting worse. These rules are all temporary “emergency measures”, and an entirely new set of rules will come into effect on April 1. Until then, medical marijuana patients will have to wait and see what happens in the cards.

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