UPDATE, November 9, 2016: Recreational marijuana was legalized in four states during the 2016 election.
I'm not saying that I moved to LA from New York specifically for the weed but, it was definitely one of the major contributing factors -- like top three.
Sure, that sounds wild but you need to understand one thing: Smoking weed in NYC isn't just garbage, it is straight trash!
Living there for ten years and blazing for the past seven of them, I've learned that life in the concrete jungle is not a sustainable environment for stoners at all.
Everyone is always uptight about it and judging by the looks people have given me while lighting up the street, you might as well be hitting a crack pipe.
(But for real, don't do that.)
Other factors, like the journey it takes just to meet your dealer or having neighbors who complain about the smell, are nothing compared to when it's winter and you're forced to smoke outside in arctic temperatures. Sh*t's brutal.
It's straight up unfair how weed smokers are treated there, really.
It's not that you can't find good bud either, because you definitely can, it just comes at the New York price. In other words, you're basically getting robbed!
But probably the most unfortunate thing for any and all weed smokers in NYC is that there's just no culture.
There are no places to go to meet new stoners, talk about your favorite strains, or any stores to buy your weed from like any tax-paying American.
So, as I'm sure you already assumed, as soon as I moved to Cali I had to see what was really going on. So I went and got my "medical" card on my lunch break and this is what I learned:
There are hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries in LA.
While 500 dispensaries closed in Los Angeles in 2014 alone, there are still a few hundred left. Sure, that's a significant loss, but walking down the street, you'll see more places to cop weed than Starbucks.
You need to get it prescribed by a doctor first.
You can't just walk into any dispensary and get your card on site. You need to see an actual doctor before you can light up.
All you have to do is schedule an appointment with your physician, or better yet a 420 doctor, which is a group specializing in giving medical marijuana licenses.
Walk-ins are welcome.
You can schedule it, but no appointment is necessary.
When I showed up to the evaluation center (where you get your license, not the weed), all that was required was about a twenty-minute wait and a few pages of paperwork to fill out.
You don't even need a California ID.
A big misconception of mine was thinking I needed to be a California resident to get a medical card. You don't!
The only thing that does suck, however, is that not all dispensaries accept out-of-state patients, so it's best to check in ahead of time before you go in and purchase.
You must have an actual medical condition.
Look, we're all human so it's safe to say our bodies are all f*cked up one way or another. Anything from back problems to sleeping issues and loss of appetite are all considered valid reasons to get your card.
However, you should also be mindful of people who are using marijuana for serious medical conditions.
Listen to your doctor closely.
During the evaluation, the doctor will listen to you closely and prescribe to you exactly what you need to feel better.
They will also be the ones to let you know if you should smoke, vape or ingest edibles. They'll even prescribe things like coconut water and therapy to ensure their patients are taken care of.
It only costs $45 to get your license.
If you're paying anything more than that, then find somewhere else! The whole process to get your license is painless, really.
You shouldn't be there longer than 30 minutes.
You don't need an actual card to go to the dispensary.
When the process is complete and you've been approved, most people think you need the card. You don't.
You can get one purely for novelty.
The most important document you need is the rec card, which is the piece of paper certifying that an actual doctor looked at you and sees marijuana as a potential cure for what ails you.
If you're lucky, you'll get a voucher for some free goods.
In most cases, you'll get some sort of free promotional medicine for your first purchase at a dispensary. That usually means a gram, edible or even a pre-rolled joint. It's like there's so much weed in Cali that they just give it away for free.
Bud tenders are there to help you.
This isn't a street deal where you're just hoping what they give you is the real deal.
The buds are properly presented with prices for every available amount so that all you have to do is take a whiff and purchase.
You can get more than just weed at dispensaries.
There is plenty of variety at these places. Everything from edibles and candies to wax and dabs are available for purchase at the dispensary.
If you're too lazy to roll, you can even purchase pre-rolled joints or better yet, pre-rolled joints dipped with wax. Now those are potent.
Now, go outside and smoke.
You're in California! Go outside to anywhere and toke up!
Bask in the radiance of (sort of) legal marijuana and give a shout out to our forefathers who made this all happen.
This isn't New York where you're looked down upon, ripped off and forced to just talk about your problems after sparking up. That sh*t is depressing.
If you're ever in LA and wondering how to get your medical marijuana card, just know the process is as easy as leaving the crib.