Starting January 1st, 2020, Illinois is poised to become the 11th state in the union to legalize recreational cannabis. Individuals exploring the Illinois medical cannabis program may be curious if it is ultimately even worth obtaining a card because of this. From getting certified by your physician, completing the online application, and paying the fees associated with it, the process can seem like quite the burden. Furthermore, even existing patients are contemplating whether renewing their medical cannabis card is both cost-effective and worthwhile. Here are some of the main benefits of obtaining or renewing your medical cannabis card in the wake of Illinois recreational legalization:
#1. Cheaper medicine
Recreational consumers will be taxed anywhere between 10% and 25%, depending on the type and strength of the cannabis product that is being purchased. They will incur additional sales taxes of 6.25% by the state and up to 3.5% by their local municipalities as well. Illinois medical cannabis patients currently only pay a 1% state sales tax on every purchase. However, patients are still subject to paying the local municipality sales tax.
To put that into perspective, let’s say you want to purchase an eighth of cannabis flower for $60. This cannabis flower has a THC concentration of more than 35% and is taxed at that 25% tier. A recreational consumer would pay $80.85 while their medical patient counterpart would pay $62.70. That is a whopping $18.15 difference on just one purchase alone. Depending on the frequency in which you make purchases and the amount of cannabis you buy, the fee associated with getting a medical cannabis card could easily pay for itself in the long run.
#2. Home growing
Another change to Illinois cannabis law slated for release on January 1st, 2020 is the option for medical patients to grow their own cannabis plants. Recreational consumers are not permitted to grow their own plants. Patients can grow up to five plants over five inches tall at any given time at their residence. Those guidelines apply to the whole household. For example, if a couple happens to both be medical cannabis patients, they can still only have five plants over five inches tall on the premises. Be mindful that the cannabis is for personal use only and cannot be shared or sold.
You’ve probably heard lately a lot about flower shortages and increasing prices on cannabis in Illinois. The best way to combat this is to consider becoming a medical cannabis patient and starting your own home grow. Other than initial start-up costs such as cannabis seeds and the various equipment, home growing can help you cultivate the medicine you need at a fraction of the price of buying flower.
#3. Priority over products
As expected, the demand for cannabis will increase substantially after the new year with recreational use in full swing. Product shortages are a genuine concern in every new recreational cannabis market. One thing that you may not know is that when the Illinois recreational cannabis law was signed, it outlined provisions to ensure that Illinois medical cannabis patients get priority access to medicine from dispensaries before adult consumers. That being the case, it can be a risky move for an existing medical cannabis patient to opt-out of renewing their card and buy recreationally as the product availability may be limited.
Also, be mindful that Illinois medical patients can purchase and possess 70.87 grams of cannabis while adult consumers have different limits. Residents of Illinois are permitted a daily purchase amount of 30 grams of cannabis flower, 5 grams of cannabis concentrate, and 500 milligrams or less THC of cannabis-infused products (like edibles). Non-residents will be allowed to purchase and possess half these amounts.