California is poised to become the first state in the nation to allow medical cannabis cards to be issued to patients.
The bill, SB 859, passed the state senate on Wednesday.
It would allow patients with certain conditions to apply for a “medical marijuana” card.
Patients would need to provide a medical history, undergo an exam, a two-hour drug testing process and a prescription from a doctor.
They would then have a choice of paying a $50 processing fee or paying $125 in cash for their cards.
Patients could use their card to purchase cannabis products, which would be taxed at a 10% rate, up from 5%.
“Medical marijuana is the future, and it is time for California to be at the forefront of the national conversation,” Assemblyman Jose Huizar (D-San Francisco), who co-sponsored the bill, said in a statement.
“We can all get behind a bill that will allow people to have access to the medical marijuana they need, without the fear of prosecution and without the stigma that surrounds it.”
A growing number of states have legalized medical cannabis, and the US has made strides toward making cannabis a safer alternative to opioid addiction.
However, some doctors are concerned about the cost and legality of the cards, particularly in California, which has the most restrictive medical cannabis laws in the US.
The bill, Huizars office said, would provide the “safest, most effective option” for patients.
The governor’s office has been lobbying for the bill to pass.