Patient FAQs

Table of Contents

When can I apply for a qualifying patient card?

Qualifying Arizona patients may apply for registry identification cards online beginning on April 14, 2011.

Do I need to apply for my qualified patient card on-line? Can I walk it in?

No. Applications may only be submitted online to ADHS.

How can I apply for a registry identification card to possess and use medical marijuana?

A patient, diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition must get a written certification from a licensed physician verifying that condition(s), on a form provided by the ADHS. The licensed physician must be a doctor of medicine, homeopath, naturopath, or osteopath, licensed to practice medicine in Arizona. The physician must have a doctor-patient relationship with the patient.

A list of debilitating conditions is listed on the ADHS website, and on other medical marijuana requirement lists. The written certification must be submitted within 90 days of the qualifying patient submitting an application for a registry ID card. After the ADHS receives the written certification from the physician, the qualifying patient may apply online for thee ID card after April 14, 2011.

The ADHS website requires that I submit electronic copies of everything in a PDF format. I don’t know how to do that, so how should I proceed?

PDF is a common format used to store documents and pictures digitally. Saving as an Adobe Portable Document Format is found on most computers and software. If you are unable or unsure whether you can save documents in the PDF format, professional computer businesses offer converting or saving documents in that format for a small cost. They will provide them on a CD or memory card.

I can’t afford the cost of a qualifying patient card. Is there a way to pay less?

A qualifying medical marijuana patient who is on the US Department of Agriculture Supplemental Nutrition Program (previously known as “food stamps”) may qualify for a reduced rate. For these individuals, a registry ID card may be purchased for the reduced rate from $150 to $75.

What medical conditions will qualify a patient for medical marijuana?

The Arizona Department of Health Services currently lists certain medical conditions that qualify for use of medical marijuana. The following list consists of diseases and chronic conditions that have proven to benefit a patient using medical marijuana. The list may be more inclusive as physicians determine additional illnesses considered to be debilitating.

  • Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
  • Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
  • Severe and chronic pain
  • Severe nausea
  • Severe or persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis

What if my medical condition is not listed?

According to AHDS, the Medical Marijuana Act allows a patient to request additional conditions to the current list of debilitating medical conditions in January and July each calendar year. There are specific requirements for submitting a request to add a medical condition.

How can I request the addition of a medical condition to the list?

Requirements for requesting the addition of a medical condition include:

  • The name of the medical condition requested to be added
  • A description of symptoms and how the patient is debilitated by the condition
  • Availability of conventional medical treatments that provide therapy or comfort for the condition
  • Summary of evidence that marijuana will provide therapy or comfort for the medical condition
  • Articles, published in scientific journals, and reported research examining the effects of marijuana on the medical condition
  • Specific details that show the medical condition or treatment of the medical condition should be added.

Who can write a medical marijuana certification for a patient?

Only a physician with a valid Arizona license to practice medicine that maintains a doctor-patient relationship may write certifications for that patient. These include a medical (MD) doctor, Osteopath, Homeopath, or Naturopath.

Does the Department provide a list of physicians who will write a medical marijuana certification?

No. The Department will not provide referrals or recommendations to physicians.

Does the certification from my doctor need to be on a specific form?

Yes. A specific ADHS certification form must be filled out completely and signed by the physician that is submitting the written certification.

What if my doctor gave me a form that is not in the ADHS format?

Do not submit a form that is not in the ADHS format. ADHS will only accept the physician’s certification on the ADHS form provided.

What documentation do I need from the recommending physician to provide with my application?

A qualifying patient pursuing a registry certification card must submit the ADHS form after it has been filled out entirely, signed, and dated by the recommending physician. The proper form requires that the physician specify the debilitating condition and that the patient is probable to receive therapy or comfort from the use of medical marijuana for that condition.

Is a licensed physician required to write medical marijuana certifications to a patient who has a chronic or debilitating condition?

No. The statute does not require a physician to write medical marijuana certifications. Physicians are free to decide if they wish to participate in the marijuana program.

What if my doctor can’t or won’t write a certification for medical marijuana?

The written certification may be obtained from a different physician than the one that original diagnosed the debilitating condition. The physician providing the written certification must state that the qualifying patient has a debilitating condition and it is recommending that the qualifying patient is likely to receive therapy or comfort from medical use of marijuana. The physician also required to state, in writing, that he and the patient have established a physician-patient relationship.

What happens if I lose my registry identification card or it is stolen?

If a registry ID card is lost or stolen, the cardholder must notify the AHDS right away. The Department’s website provides an application for replacing the card at a cost of $10.

How much marijuana can a qualifying patient possess?

A qualifying patient may possess up to twelve marijuana plants, or 2 ½ ounces of usable marijuana.

Where will a qualifying patient be able to smoke or consume medical marijuana?

Many regulations regarding locations where a qualifying patients is allowed to smoke, eat, or have medical marijuana is complex. A qualifying patient may not consume or smoke medical marijuana at a dispensary, or smoke medical marijuana in public places.

Medical marijuana in foods is allowed at some locations, and any patient is free to smoke, eat, or posses a small amount in their private home. For a qualifying patient living in any institution or facility, or even attending an adult health day care, must follow restrictions of the facility.

Can a qualifying patient drive while smoking marijuana?

No. Driving under the influence is against the law for a qualifying patient the same as any other person, and the penalties are the same according to the law.

My workplace routinely tests for drugs including marijuana. If I’m a qualified patient, what protection do I have regarding my job or the law?

Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act specifically states that a qualifying patient may not be penalized for a possession of a registry ID card, or positive marijuana drug tests. It is also clearly stated that the patient may not use marijuana on the employer’s premises. The patient may not possess marijuana at work, or be impaired during hours of employment. Patients in these situations are recommended to consult legal advice from a licensed Arizona attorney to be sure of their legal rights and restrictions.

Can I grow my own marijuana?

According to state law, a qualifying patient or the qualifying patient’s caregiver may be allowed to grow marijuana only if a dispensary is not operating within twenty-five (25) miles of the qualifying patient’s home. Since no dispensaries will be operating when the first qualifying patients obtain a registry identification card, all qualifying patients will be approved to cultivate. When dispensaries start opening for business, the patient or caregiver can no long cultivate, and must purchase from a dispensary within 25 miles of the patient’s their home.

Can I grow marijuana outside?

You can grow marijuana outside if you are authorized to cultivate marijuana and you comply with the law. Growing marijuana is only allowed in an enclosed, locked facility: a closet, room, greenhouse, or other enclosed area equipped with locks or other security devices that permit access only by a cardholder. The enclosed area outside must have a one-inch thick metal gate, and must be surrounded by solid 10-foot walls constructed of metal, concrete, or stone that prevent any viewing of the marijuana plants.

How will I know if I am authorized to grow marijuana?

A qualifying patient or designated caregiver who wants to grow medical marijuana should indicate that desire on the application. The Department will check the qualifying patient’s address,. If there is no dispensary within a 25 mile radius of the nearest operating dispensary, the Department will issue registry identification card(s) indicating authorization to grow marijuana.

If there is a dispensary within a 25 mile radius, the Department will send the qualifying patient a list of all dispensaries, along with a registry identification card indicating that the qualifying patient or caregiver is not authorized to grow marijuana.

If I am authorized to grow marijuana, can I also buy it at a dispensary?

Yes. The qualifying patient authorized to cultivate marijuana and also purchases medical marijuana from a dispensary is still required to abide by the limit of marijuana they are allowed to have in their possession.

How much marijuana can I buy?

A qualifying patient or designated caregiver, registered with ADHS, is allowed to have up to 2.5 ounces of in a 14-day period. This is the total allowed from a registered nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary, or home-grown medical marijuana, or the combination of both.

Where can I legally buy marijuana if I am a qualifying patient?

Qualifying patients can purchase medical marijuana from a non-profit dispensary, the qualifying patient’s designated caregiver, another qualifying patient, or, if authorized to cultivate, from their own home cultivation.

Does the Department provide a list of dispensaries?

When a qualifying patient obtains or renews a registry identification card, the Department will provide a list of all operating dispensaries to the qualifying patient. Until approved dispensaries are available, (application begins June 1), the qualifying patient will be allowed to cultivate their own medical marijuana according to the limits set by AHDS.

If I am authorized to grow marijuana and a new dispensary opens within 25 miles of my home, what happens?

When a qualifying patient applies for renewal of the registry identification card, the Department will check to see if the qualifying patient’s address is within a 25 mile radius of the nearest dispensary. If so, the Department will send the qualifying patient a list of all dispensaries along with a registry identification card indicating that they are no longer authorized to grow their own medical marijuana.

As long as no dispensary is in operation within a 25 mile radius of the qualifying patient’s home, the Department will re-issue the qualifying patient or the designated caregiver a registry identification card indicating the authorization to continue growing medical marijuana.

When I get a registry identification card, can I go to any dispensary or am I assigned to the nearest dispensary?

Unlike other medical marijuana programs, Arizona does not assign patients to a particular dispensary. Dispensaries operate independently and offer a variety of services, under the restrictions set by AHDS. This allows the qualifying patient to shop around, finding the dispensary that best fits their medical need. Dispensaries may vary in price, have different hours of operation, offer different strains of marijuana, or other services the qualification patient wants.

If I don’t want to designate a caregiver and I am unable to go to a dispensary to buy medical marijuana, can a dispensary deliver the medical marijuana to me?

There is nothing in the AHDS rules to prevent a dispensary from delivering medical marijuana. However, the dispensary has requirements for traveling, verifying the patient’s ID, and recordkeeping as specified in dispensary rules. The dispensary may not choose to deliver and there is no rule requiring that they provide door-to-door service. If the city or county makes a law to prevent delivering medical marijuana, the dispensary and the patient must comply with the local ordinance.

Will I have to pay tax on medical marijuana?

There is no special tax on medical marijuana. The dispensary pays a local retail transaction privilege tax, similar to a sales tax. The dispensary also pays state and county tax from sales of medical marijuana or any other products they sell. Dispensaries are considered retail businesses, and as such may pass the tax on to their customers.

How will I know if I’m getting medical marijuana?

AHDS will be keeping a close watch on all products sold by dispensaries, including marijuana and products containing marijuana. They require labels that state where the marijuana was grown, date of manufacture, list of chemical additives, amount in each package, and the strain of marijuana. On the edible products, the label also must list the total weight.

If I have a past conviction for possession or use of marijuana, can I still get a qualifying patient registry identification card?

Yes. Any Arizona resident who submits a written certification from an Arizona licensed physician may  obtain a qualifying patient registry identification card. State law requires background checks for prior “excluded felony offenses” before approving designated caregivers and dispensary agents.

If I am visiting Arizona from another state from which I have obtained a medical marijuana card, can I legally possess marijuana?

State law allows a visiting qualifying patient with a registry identification card, or its equivalent, to possess or use marijuana in Arizona.

If I am from another state, may I buy marijuana from a dispensary in Arizona?

No. A visiting patient is not authorized to obtain marijuana from a dispensary in Arizona, because the dispensary is regulated by certain rules of a verification system before selling to patients.

Can I hold a medical marijuana card for more than one state?

Medical marijuana laws are set in place on the individual state level. Throughout the process of applying for a medical marijuana card in Arizona, the patient is required to show proof of Arizona residency for three consecutive years. Arizona also requires a certification from an Arizona licensed physician that has established a doctor-patient relationship. Any patient that fully complies with Arizona requirements, will receive an Arizona registry ID card, regardless of having a medical marijuana card from another state.

Do I have to have a caregiver?

No. AHDS does not require a qualifying patient to designate a caregiver. The individual may choose to have one, if they need help with the medical use of marijuana.

Who can be my designated caregiver?

Any person over the age of 21 who agrees to assist a qualifying patient with medical use of marijuana may be a designated caregiver. The caregiver also must pass a background check that shows no excluded felony offenses. There are no a requirements for the designated caregiver to be certified as a professional in the healthcare industry or home health aide.

How many caregivers may I have?

A qualifying patient may designate only one person at a time as their designated caregiver to assist with the use of medical marijuana. The qualifying patient may use other caregivers for administration of other activities, medications, or home health care, but these may not assist in the use of marijuana.

How much will it cost to apply for a registry identification card or a dispensary registration certificate?

The fees are listed in the AHDS rules and include:

  • $150 for an initial or a renewal registry identification card for a qualifying patient.
  • Some qualifying patients may be eligible to pay $75 for initial and renewal cards if they currently participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (known as the Food Stamp Program).
  • $10 to amend, change, or replace a registry identification card.
  • Other fees are required for caregivers, dispensaries and cultivation locations.