The term medical marijuana refers to the use of whole, unprocessed marijuana to treat symptoms of illness or other conditions. In California, marijuana is legal for both medicinal and recreational purposes. If you’re over 21 and have a valid ID, you can buy weed from any dispensary. Due to the rising accessibility of weed, California’s medical marijuana program is being forgotten about. However, medical marijuana patients receive more perks, including lower sales tax, access to medical marijuana dispensaries, ability to purchase and grow more marijuana, and access to higher potency edibles. So, how can you get a medical marijuana card?

Make sure you’re eligible

To be eligible for a medical marijuana card, you must be a legal resident of California who is over the age of 18. You must also have one if the listed qualifying medical conditions under California marijuana laws.

The qualifying conditions listed on the program’s website include anxiety, arthritis, cancer, chemotherapy side effects, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, HIV or AIDS, migraine headaches, multiple sclerosis, and radiation therapy side effects. If your condition isn’t in either of these lists, there’s still hope if your physician believes your condition would be best treated by medical marijuana.

Minors can be eligible for medical marijuana cards if they have a qualifying medical condition. Both the minor and their parent must be a legal resident of California. Minors also require two physician certifications (as opposed to one for adults — but more on this later).

Get certified

The next step is to start assembling your application form, which will be mailed to your county health department. Complete the application/renewal form CDPH 9042, and prepare a copy of your government-issued photo ID, as well as proof of county residence.

In order to complete your application, you’ll need to get a written physician certification. Basically, a physician certification is approval from a registered physician confirming that you have a qualifying medical condition that could be helped by the use of medical marijuana. Include your written certification in your application.

Check out the program’s list of licensed physicians in California. If you’re unable to find anything in your area, you’ll be able to find a list of physicians by googling medical marijuana evaluations. Be prepared for potentially long wait times if you choose not to make a scheduled appointment, and remember to bring all relevant paperwork to your appointment.

Mail in your application along with the applicable fee (make sure to check what you’re required to pay by contacting your county health department). If your application is rejected, your application fee will be returned. For now, just sit back and hope for the best.

Choose your method

Medical marijuana patients are allowed to cultivate their own plants at home. They also have the option to buy more weed at dispensaries than recreational users. Once you’re approved, you’ll have the choice to decide whether to grow your own plants, allow a caretaker to grow plants for you, or go to a dispensary for your marijuana-related needs.

In addition to the perks medical marijuana patients receive, there are numerous benefits to medical marijuana. Nearly 70 percent of 60 peer-reviewed research studies examining benefits of medical marijuana found a benefit. Medical marijuana helps to modulate the immune system, promote neuroplasticity, and regulate emotional and cognitive functioning, including learning and motivation, appetite, and vascular and digestive functions.

If you’re unsure whether medical marijuana is the right treatment for you, talk to your doctor about your condition and explore all treatment options. In the event that your application for a medical marijuana card is rejected, and you believe marijuana is the right treatment for you, try looking into a California marijuana license.