Can a Tourist Get a Medical Card in California?

By  //  September 27, 2023

California is a sought-after destination for tourists from around the globe, attracting visitors with its breathtaking landscapes, iconic landmarks, and favorable climate.

Additionally, the state’s progressive stance on cannabis has sparked interest among tourists who seek to enjoy the benefits of legal cannabis consumption. With the integration of both medical and recreational cannabis in the Californian lifestyle, a common question arises: Can a tourist get a medical card in California? Here, we explore the legality, possibilities, and alternatives for tourists seeking access to medical marijuana in the Golden State.

Legal Landscape

Residency Requirements

To get a medical marijuana card in California, one must typically be a resident of the state. The state mandates that applicants provide proof of residency, such as a state-issued ID or a utility bill, making it virtually impossible for tourists to acquire a medical card. This residency requirement ensures that medical marijuana cards are only issued to those who live in California and have a verifiable medical condition that necessitates cannabis treatment.

Recreational Cannabis for Non-Residents

However, all hope is not lost for tourists eager to partake in California’s cannabis culture. Thanks to Proposition 64, adults aged 21 and over, including non-residents, can purchase and consume recreational cannabis legally. This allows tourists to access a variety of cannabis products from licensed recreational dispensaries across the state without the need for a medical card.

Alternatives to Medical Cards

Recreational Dispensaries

Even without a medical card, tourists can access a wide range of cannabis products available at recreational dispensaries. These establishments offer various strains, edibles, topicals, and concentrates, enabling tourists to choose products that align with their preferences and desired experiences. However, it’s crucial for tourists to be mindful of the limitations imposed on recreational cannabis, such as lower potency caps and restricted access to certain medical-grade products.

Cannabis Tourism

The burgeoning field of cannabis tourism offers immersive experiences for those interested in learning more about cannabis cultivation, production, and consumption. Several cannabis tours and experiences are available, providing insights into the industry and opportunities to sample different products under the guidance of knowledgeable guides. These experiences can serve as a valuable source of education for tourists, even if they cannot access medical-grade cannabis.

Considerations for Tourists

Compliance with State Laws

While enjoying the freedom of legal cannabis consumption, tourists must adhere to California’s cannabis laws and regulations. Public consumption is prohibited, and users are required to consume cannabis in private residences or designated consumption lounges. Additionally, driving under the influence of cannabis is illegal and subject to severe penalties. Tourists must familiarize themselves with the state’s cannabis laws to ensure a safe and hassle-free experience.

Health and Safety

Tourists new to cannabis should approach consumption with caution, starting with low doses and gradually increasing as they become familiar with their tolerance levels. Understanding the effects of different strains and products is essential to avoid overconsumption and ensure a pleasant experience. Tourists should prioritize purchasing cannabis from licensed dispensaries to guarantee the quality and safety of the products.


While acquiring a medical card in California is restricted to state residents, tourists have several alternatives to experience the state’s vibrant cannabis culture. The legalization of recreational cannabis offers non-residents the opportunity to explore a variety of products available at licensed dispensaries, and cannabis tourism experiences provide a deeper understanding of the industry.

Tourists should be diligent in complying with state laws and prioritizing health and safety to make the most out of their Californian cannabis experience. By respecting the legal framework and embracing responsible consumption practices, tourists can enjoy the diverse cannabis offerings of the Golden State without the need for a medical card.