Can You Light Up on the Last Day? Understanding MMJ Card Validity and Expiration
If you live in a location with a medical marijuana program, you could be eligible for an MMJ card. Once you have the card, you can legally purchase cannabis within your state. If other states have reciprocity programs, you can buy MMJ there too.
Each state program mandates that medical marijuana cards are valid for a certain period. You should see the expiration date listed on the card. If you have digital certification, you can see it online.
While you can’t use your MMJ card after this date, what about using it on that date? The straightforward answer is “yes,” but there are a few important things to note.
This article answers the crucial question: “Can you use your MMJ card on the day it expires?” in greater detail. It also outlines how and when to renew your card and discusses a seldom-considered issue that can cause real problems for medical marijuana patients.
MMJ Card Expiration: What Does It Mean?
The expiration date on a medical marijuana card illustrates the end of its validity period. Typically, an MMJ card is issued for a specific amount of time. In most states, a card is valid for 12 months, although there are some exceptions.
In each state, it is clear that you can’t legally access medical marijuana once your card has expired. However, there are differences in policies that can cause grave inconvenience. We explore this issue in more detail soon, but first, let’s answer the title question more clearly.
Is It Legal to Use My Card on the Day It Expires?
Yes, you can legally use your MMJ on the day your card expires. So, if the expiry date is June 17 and you want to buy marijuana on that day, the licensed dispensary you visit should allow you to complete your purchase.
If you visit the same dispensary on June 18, your card will be rejected, and you can no longer buy MMJ legally. That’s why it’s important to renew your card before it expires.
For residents of states with recreational cannabis, it is still possible to buy a certain amount if they are 21+.
Please note that there could be time restrictions on expiry day. For instance, you might assume your MMJ card is valid until midnight on the expiration day. Yet, some states may decide that your card expires at the start of the expiry day. This means that your card becomes invalid ON the expiration date!
If this isn’t confusing enough, certain localities within your state might have different policies. Dispensaries in one county might rigidly adhere to the expiry date. Across county lines, other stores might allow a day or two worth of wiggle room. In this case, you shouldn’t expect law enforcement to follow suit.
Certification Date Versus MMJ Card Expiry Date
The concept of an expiration date seems simple enough. Once the expiry date on the medical marijuana passes, you lose your MMJ privileges.
Alas, it isn’t as straightforward as it seems. In some states, the expiration date on your card is NOT the last day you can buy medical marijuana.
Take Pennsylvania, for example. Many MMJ patients have experienced the disappointment of having their cards refused long before the expiry date. Unfortunately, this is not an error on behalf of the dispensaries in question.
In PA, things work a little differently. The day you receive your written certification from the doctor is known as the certification date. This is NOT the same as your expiry date.
Once you receive the doctor’s recommendation, you must complete the rest of the application. In Pennsylvania, the state program can take several weeks to send the medical marijuana card.
So, imagine you received the doctor’s approval on May 14, 2022; this is the certification date and the date when your MMJ card expires in 12 months. The fact that your card’s expiry date is June 4, 2023, makes no difference; your ability to buy MMJ with the card ends on May 14, 2023, NOT June 4.
Incidentally, medical marijuana patients in PA can learn their certification date by logging into the Department of Health website and checking the profile settings on their accounts.
Therefore, it’s essential for you to learn all about your state’s specific rules surrounding expiration dates.
My MMJ Card Has Expired; What Now?
Once the expiration date passes, you no longer have the legal protection you once had. Thus, you must avoid using MMJ until you have a valid card. With an expired card, you will get into legal trouble for using cannabis if your state doesn’t permit recreational marijuana.
For instance, Arkansas doesn’t allow adult-use cannabis, nor has it decriminalized the substance. So, if a police officer finds you possessing marijuana and your MMJ card has expired, you could be charged with a misdemeanor. If found guilty, you might spend up to one year in prison. Incidentally, a second offense is a felony with a possible prison term of six years.
If you attempt to buy medical marijuana with an expired card, the dispensary’s staff will refuse to serve you. There’s no point in protesting because you don’t have any right to access MMJ.
Renew Your Card: The Earlier, the Better
The timeframe associated with the renewal process varies depending on the state. However, you should assume it will take several weeks, regardless of the official line from your state. Indeed, in certain locations, patients can begin renewing their cards up to 90 days before their expiry date and are encouraged to begin as soon as possible.
As you can probably guess, the renewal process varies from effortless in some states to extremely difficult in others. In almost every case, the process begins with another doctor’s consultation. The medical professional will discuss how MMJ has helped you and also try to determine whether you still have a qualifying medical condition.
If they’re satisfied that you’re still eligible and that marijuana isn’t having a negative mental and physical effect, they will likely provide you with fresh written certification. Use this to complete the renewal application online. There is usually a renewal fee.
The process is much easier in states that allow you to speak to a doctor online. In such locations, you can use MMJCardOnline to book an appointment.
After your state approves your renewal application, it’s time to wait for your updated medical marijuana card in the mail. If your state has a digital registry, it will update the details in your online profile.
Here’s Why Early Renewal Rules
Unless you no longer want to use medical marijuana, there’s no reason why you would avoid renewing your card on time. Below, we outline just three benefits of completing the process early.
Book your appointment in comfort
Booking a consultation with a licensed physician is a major part of the renewal process. If you live in a state with a thriving MMJ program, there could be a delay in getting an appointment. Leaving it to the last minute could result in your card expiring before you even get the doctor’s written certification.
Of course, if your state allows online consultations, you can use our services to book a same-day appointment.
Retain your legal protection
A coverage gap leaves you open to legal issues for using MMJ. It doesn’t matter if your card has only expired by one day; if you’re found in possession of marijuana and no longer have the protection your card provides, you could face serious consequences. In states that have yet to decriminalize the substance, jail time is a genuine possibility.
It’s just easier!
Remember that if your card expires, you must go through the application process again. Typically, though not always, the renewal process is easier than the initial application, so it makes sense to take advantage of this fact.
Remember, the Renewal Process Varies
With so many states now allowing the use of medical marijuana, it’s unsurprising to learn that some have completely different rules from others. Here’s an overview of important renewal information in five selected states:
- Arizona: You can apply for renewal when your card is less than 90 days away from expiring. The fee is $150, and you’re advised to begin the process at least 30 days in advance. MMJ cards in Arizona are valid for 24 months.
- Connecticut: CT is one of the states that uses the certification date rather than the medical marijuana card’s expiry date. Thus, it is wise to begin the renewal process several weeks beforehand. You and your doctor use the DCP portal to renew your card; the fee is $100. In Connecticut, MMJ cards are valid for 12 months.
- Maryland: The renewal process is easy in Maryland. Log into your patient account on the MMCC website. The fee is $25, and the renewal registration lasts 72 months. However, you must still visit a doctor annually for recertification.
- Ohio: In OH, the medical marijuana registration date falls on the last day of the month your MMJ card is renewed. The renewal process involves visiting the Ohio Patient & Caregiver Registry and using your login details. You can begin renewing your card up to 90 days before its expiry date. The MMJ card is valid for 12 months, and the renewal fee is $50.
- West Virginia: The renewal process is rather straightforward in West Virginia. You must get another doctor’s certification and sign into the WV patient registry to renew your card. Your MMJ card is valid for 12 months, with the renewal fee set at $50.
Final Thoughts on Using Your MMJ Card on its Expiry Date
You are legally allowed to use your medical marijuana card on the day it expires. However, the rules in some states ensure that you can’t buy MMJ after midnight on the expiry date. This means you can only buy marijuana on the day before your card expires.
In other states, the date you received the doctor’s certification is the last day your card is valid. Please check your state’s rules to ensure you don’t fall into this particular trap.
Ultimately, the most sensible option is to renew your MMJ card well before its expiration date. Doing so ensures you’re legally protected and benefit from higher possession limits and more potent products in certain states. If you allow your card to expire without renewing, you must reapply for a new card, a process that’s usually longer-winded than renewing.
In almost every state, renewing involves booking another consultation with a licensed physician. Fortunately, you can schedule your appointment in comfort by using MMJCardOnline. Our partners are ready and waiting to connect you with a doctor. So, why delay when you can start the renewal process today?