Cannabis Taxes Got You Down? Maybe it’s Time to Invest in an MMIC Card!

What’s an MMIC Card?

In 1996, California changed history with its passage of Proposition 215 which legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes. This launched the Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC) program to identify cardholders who could lawfully have possession of cannabis. An MMIC differs from a standard doctor’s recommendation because it registers you in a state-wide database. These methods are meant to speed up the verification process while also maintaining a high level of privacy. MMICs need to abide by HIPPA rules just like any other doctor or hospital would.

Nowadays, you’d assume with the passing of California Prop 64, which legalized adult-use cannabis for recreational use, there’s no need to possess an MMIC. However, it does come with some hidden benefits that can come in handy when you want to save a little tax money. 

Let’s explain further:

With an MMIC, you’ll receive all the benefits of someone that has their doctor’s recommendation (higher possession limits, purchase limits, lower age restrictions, access to medical-only cannabis dispensaries, etc.), but you’ll also be able to save some cash due to lower or even eliminated taxes in certain cases.

There are three types of California cannabis taxes. Two of these can’t be avoided regardless of whether you have an MMIC or a basic doctor’s recommendation.

Excise Tax: This state tax is associated with the wholesale price, and is the lion’s share of the taxes you’ll be paying on cannabis. It cannot be avoided. Even discounted or sales-priced items don’t reduce this tax.

Local Tax: Nearly every California city and county taxes licensed retailers operating within their borders. Local tax rates range from zero to as much as 15% in some cases, but on average it’s about 5-7% depending on your city or county. This tax is calculated from the combined total of the retail price and excise tax. This tax again, cannot be avoided.

Sales and Use Tax: This is where your MMIC savings kick in. This is also a state tax, “sales and use” rates range from 7.25% to as much as 10% due to some cities and counties having a “district tax” included under this taxing umbrella. Sales and Use Tax is usually the 2nd highest tax rate you’ll pay for cannabis in California due to the fact that it’s calculated on the retail price + excise tax + local tax. With an MMIC card, YOU DON’T HAVE TO PAY THIS TAX!

Why isn’t my doctor’s recommendation good enough to save on Sales and Use Taxes?

Because it’s not registered with the state of California, which collects sales and use taxes.

OK, How Do I Get One?

You have to have your medical doctor’s recommendation first. Then, register with your local county public health department. Most counties charge a fee of $100 annually.

You can locate you county’s local public health department’s MMIC program here

If you’re concerned about what information the state keeps on file, it’s nearly nothing. In fact, they don’t even keep your name.

Per, the California Department of Public Health, “The Medical Marijuana Application System does not contain any personal information such as name, address, or social security number. It only contains the unique user ID number and when entered the only information provided is whether the card is valid or invalid.”