California Medical Marijuana Laws
medical marijuana states | California
[size=12]In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215 allowing for the use of medical marijuana, when prescribed by a licensed physician, to patients with certain, specific pains and conditions.
Soon thereafter, Senate Bill 420 was passed by the California Legislature to assist the Courts and law-enforcement authorities in understanding the implications of Prop 215.
In addition to explaining the basic protections that Prop 215 created, SB420 also allowed, but went short of mandating, each county to create their own particular regulations for the medical marijuana dispensaries in their county.
Not all counties have passed these regulations, not all counties agree that Prop 215 does not violate the Federal Controlled Substances Act. The Supreme Court of the United States has said that Prop 215 is subject to the Controlled Substances Act, but did not say that it violates the Act either. This, of course, leaves the matter to the states to decide under the 10th Amendment.
The Board of Supervisors for the County of Los Angeles have now outlined the county's regulations for regulating Medicinal Marijuana Dispensaries, (MMD's), in its unincorporated areas. Several other counties and cities are following along the same lines with similar restrictions.
medical marijuana states | California
SUMMARY: Fifty-six percent of voters approved Proposition 215 on November 5, 1996. The law took effect the following day. It removes state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess a "written or oral recommendation" from their physician that he or she "would benefit from medical marijuana." Patients diagnosed with any debilitating illness where the medical use of marijuana has been "deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician" are afforded legal protection under this act. Conditions typically covered by the law include but are not limited to: arthritis; cachexia; cancer; chronic pain; HIV or AIDS; epilepsy; migraine; and multiple sclerosis. No set limits regarding the amount of marijuana patients may possess and/or cultivate were provided by this act, though the California Legislature adopted guidelines in 2003.
AMENDMENTS: Yes. Senate Bill 420, which was signed into law in October 2003 and took effect on January 1, 2004, imposes statewide guidelines outlining how much medicinal marijuana patients may grow and possess. Under the guidelines, qualified patients and/or their primary caregivers may possess no more than eight ounces of dried marijuana and/or six mature (or 12 immature) marijuana plants. However, S.B. 420 allows patients to possess larger amounts of marijuana when such quantities are recommended by a physician. The legislation also allows counties and municipalities to approve and/or maintain local ordinances permitting patients to possess larger quantities of medicinal pot than allowed under the new state guidelines.
Senate Bill 420 also mandates the California Department of State Health Services to establish a voluntary medicinal marijuana patient registry, and issue identification cards to qualified patients. To date, however, no such registry has been established.
Senate Bill 420 also grants implied legal protection to the state's medicinal marijuana dispensaries, stating, "Qualified patients, persons with valid identification cards, and the designated primary caregivers of qualified patients ... who associate within the state of California in order collectively or cooperatively to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes, shall not solely on the basis of that fact be subject to state criminal sanctions."
CONTACT INFORMATION: For more information on Californiaâ€™s medical marijuana law, please contact:
2215-R Market Street #278
San Francisco, CA 94144
medical marijuana states | California
HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE SECTION 11357-11362.9
11357. (a) Except as authorized by law, every person who possesses
any concentrated cannabis shall be punished by imprisonment in the
county jail for a period of not more than one year or by a fine of
not more than five hundred dollars ($500), or by both such fine and
imprisonment, or shall be punished by imprisonment in the state
(b) Except as authorized by law, every person who possesses not
more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, other than concentrated cannabis,
is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not
more than one hundred dollars ($100). Notwithstanding other
provisions of law, if such person has been previously convicted three
or more times of an offense described in this subdivision during the
two-year period immediately preceding the date of commission of the
violation to be charged, the previous convictions shall also be
charged in the accusatory pleading and, if found to be true by the
jury upon a jury trial or by the court upon a court trial or if
admitted by the person, the provisions of Sections 1000.1 and 1000.2
of the Penal Code shall be applicable to him, and the court shall
divert and refer him for education, treatment, or rehabilitation,
without a court hearing or determination or the concurrence of the
district attorney, to an appropriate community program which will
accept him. If the person is so diverted and referred he shall not
be subject to the fine specified in this subdivision. If no
community program will accept him, the person shall be subject to the
fine specified in this subdivision. In any case in which a person
is arrested for a violation of this subdivision and does not demand
to be taken before a magistrate, such person shall be released by the
arresting officer upon presentation of satisfactory evidence of
identity and giving his written promise to appear in court, as
provided in Section 853.6 of the Penal Code, and shall not be
subjected to booking.
(c) Except as authorized by law, every person who possesses more
than 28.5 grams of marijuana, other than concentrated cannabis, shall
be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not
more than six months or by a fine of not more than five hundred
dollars ($500), or by both such fine and imprisonment.
(d) Except as authorized by law, every person 18 years of age or
over who possesses not more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, other than
concentrated cannabis, upon the grounds of, or within, any school
providing instruction in kindergarten or any of grades 1 through 12
during hours the school is open for classes or school-related
programs is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine
of not more than five hundred dollars ($500), or by imprisonment in
the county jail for a period of not more than 10 days, or both.
(e) Except as authorized by law, every person under the age of 18
who possesses not more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, other than
concentrated cannabis, upon the grounds of, or within, any school
providing instruction in kindergarten or any of grades 1 through 12
during hours the school is open for classes or school-related
programs is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be subject to the
(1) A fine of not more than two hundred fifty dollars ($250), upon
a finding that a first offense has been committed.
(2) A fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500), or
commitment to a juvenile hall, ranch, camp, forestry camp, or secure
juvenile home for a period of not more than 10 days, or both, upon a
finding that a second or subsequent offense has been committed.
11358. Every person who plants, cultivates, harvests, dries, or
processes any marijuana or any part thereof, except as otherwise
provided by law, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state
11359. Every person who possesses for sale any marijuana, except as
otherwise provided by law, shall be punished by imprisonment in the
11360. (a) Except as otherwise provided by this section or as
authorized by law, every person who transports, imports into this
state, sells, furnishes, administers, or gives away, or offers to
transport, import into this state, sell, furnish, administer, or give
away, or attempts to import into this state or transport any
marijuana shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a
period of two, three or four years.
(b) Except as authorized by law, every person who gives away,
offers to give away, transports, offers to transport, or attempts to
transport not more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, other than
concentrated cannabis, is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be
punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars ($100). In
any case in which a person is arrested for a violation of this
subdivision and does not demand to be taken before a magistrate, such
person shall be released by the arresting officer upon presentation
of satisfactory evidence of identity and giving his written promise
to appear in court, as provided in Section 853.6 of the Penal Code,
and shall not be subjected to booking.
11361. (a) Every person 18 years of age or over who hires, employs,
or uses a minor in unlawfully transporting, carrying, selling,
giving away, preparing for sale, or peddling any marijuana, who
unlawfully sells, or offers to sell, any marijuana to a minor, or who
furnishes, administers, or gives, or offers to furnish, administer,
or give any marijuana to a minor under 14 years of age, or who
induces a minor to use marijuana in violation of law shall be
punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a period of three,
five, or seven years.
(b) Every person 18 years of age or over who furnishes,
administers, or gives, or offers to furnish, administer, or give, any
marijuana to a minor 14 years of age or older shall be punished by
imprisonment in the state prison for a period of three, four, or five
11361.5. (a) Records of any court of this state, any public or
private agency that provides services upon referral under Section
1000.2 of the Penal Code, or of any state agency pertaining to the
arrest or conviction of any person for a violation of subdivision
(b), (c), (d), or (e) of Section 11357 or subdivision (b) of Section
11360, shall not be kept beyond two years from the date of the
conviction, or from the date of the arrest if there was no
conviction, except with respect to a violation of subdivision (e) of
Section 11357 the records shall be retained until the offender
attains the age of 18 years at which time the records shall be
destroyed as provided in this section. Any court or agency having
custody of the records shall provide for the timely destruction of
the records in accordance with subdivision (c). The requirements of
this subdivision do not apply to records of any conviction occurring
prior to January 1, 1976, or records of any arrest not followed by a
conviction occurring prior to that date.
(b) This subdivision applies only to records of convictions and
arrests not followed by conviction occurring prior to January 1,
1976, for any of the following offenses:
(1) Any violation of Section 11357 or a statutory predecessor
(2) Unlawful possession of a device, contrivance, instrument, or
paraphernalia used for unlawfully smoking marijuana, in violation of
Section 11364, as it existed prior to January 1, 1976, or a statutory
(3) Unlawful visitation or presence in a room or place in which
marijuana is being unlawfully smoked or used, in violation of Section
11365, as it existed prior to January 1, 1976, or a statutory
(4) Unlawfully using or being under the influence of marijuana, in
violation of Section 11550, as it existed prior to January 1, 1976,
or a statutory predecessor thereof.
Any person subject to an arrest or conviction for those offenses
may apply to the Department of Justice for destruction of records
pertaining to the arrest or conviction if two or more years have
elapsed since the date of the conviction, or since the date of the
arrest if not followed by a conviction. The application shall be
submitted upon a form supplied by the Department of Justice and shall
be accompanied by a fee, which shall be established by the
department in an amount which will defray the cost of administering
this subdivision and costs incurred by the state under subdivision
(c), but which shall not exceed thirty-seven dollars and fifty cents
($37.50). The application form may be made available at every local
police or sheriff's department and from the Department of Justice and
may require that information which the department determines is
necessary for purposes of identification.
The department may request, but not require, the applicant to
include a self-administered fingerprint upon the application. If the
department is unable to sufficiently identify the applicant for
purposes of this subdivision without the fingerprint or without
additional fingerprints, it shall so notify the applicant and shall
request the applicant to submit any fingerprints which may be
required to effect identification, including a complete set if
necessary, or, alternatively, to abandon the application and request
a refund of all or a portion of the fee submitted with the
application, as provided in this section. If the applicant fails or
refuses to submit fingerprints in accordance with the department's
request within a reasonable time which shall be established by the
department, or if the applicant requests a refund of the fee, the
department shall promptly mail a refund to the applicant at the
address specified in the application or at any other address which
may be specified by the applicant. However, if the department has
notified the applicant that election to abandon the application will
result in forfeiture of a specified amount which is a portion of the
fee, the department may retain a portion of the fee which the
department determines will defray the actual costs of processing the
application, provided the amount of the portion retained shall not
exceed ten dollars ($10).
Upon receipt of a sufficient application, the Department of
Justice shall destroy records of the department, if any, pertaining
to the arrest or conviction in the manner prescribed by subdivision
(c) and shall notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the law
enforcement agency which arrested the applicant, and, if the
applicant was convicted, the probation department which investigated
the applicant and the Department of Motor Vehicles, of the
(c) Destruction of records of arrest or conviction pursuant to
subdivision (a) or (b) shall be accomplished by permanent
obliteration of all entries or notations upon the records pertaining
to the arrest or conviction, and the record shall be prepared again
so that it appears that the arrest or conviction never occurred.
However, where (1) the only entries upon the record pertain to the
arrest or conviction and (2) the record can be destroyed without
necessarily effecting the destruction of other records, then the
document constituting the record shall be physically destroyed.
(d) Notwithstanding subdivision (a) or (b), written transcriptions
of oral testimony in court proceedings and published judicial
appellate reports are not subject to this section. Additionally, no
records shall be destroyed pursuant to subdivision (a) if the
defendant or a codefendant has filed a civil action against the peace
officers or law enforcement jurisdiction which made the arrest or
instituted the prosecution and if the agency which is the custodian
of those records has received a certified copy of the complaint in
the civil action, until the civil action has finally been resolved.
Immediately following the final resolution of the civil action,
records subject to subdivision (a) shall be destroyed pursuant to
subdivision (c) if more than two years have elapsed from the date of
the conviction or arrest without conviction.
medical marijuana states | California
11361.7. (a) Any record subject to destruction or permanent
obliteration pursuant to Section 11361.5, or more than two years of
age, or a record of a conviction for an offense specified in
subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 11361.5 which became final more
than two years previously, shall not be considered to be accurate,
relevant, timely, or complete for any purposes by any agency or
person. The provisions of this subdivision shall be applicable for
purposes of the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. Section 552a) to the
fullest extent permissible by law, whenever any information or record
subject to destruction or permanent obliteration under Section
11361.5 was obtained by any state agency, local public agency, or any
public or private agency that provides services upon referral under
Section 1000.2 of the Penal Code, and is thereafter shared with or
disseminated to any agency of the federal government.
(b) No public agency shall alter, amend, assess, condition, deny,
limit, postpone, qualify, revoke, surcharge, or suspend any
certificate, franchise, incident, interest, license, opportunity,
permit, privilege, right, or title of any person because of an arrest
or conviction for an offense specified in subdivision (a) or (b) of
Section 11361.5, or because of the facts or events leading to such an
arrest or conviction, on or after the date the records of such
arrest or conviction are required to be destroyed by subdivision (a)
of Section 11361.5, or two years from the date of such conviction or
arrest without conviction with respect to arrests and convictions
occurring prior to January 1, 1976. As used in this subdivision,
"public agency" includes, but is not limited to, any state, county,
city and county, city, public or constitutional corporation or
entity, district, local or regional political subdivision, or any
department, division, bureau, office, board, commission or other
(c) Any person arrested or convicted for an offense specified in
subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 11361.5 may, two years from the
date of such a conviction, or from the date of the arrest if there
was no conviction, indicate in response to any question concerning
his prior criminal record that he was not arrested or convicted for
(d) The provisions of this section shall be applicable without
regard to whether destruction or obliteration of records has actually
been implemented pursuant to Section 11361.5.
11362. As used in this article "felony offense," and offense
"punishable as a felony" refer to an offense for which the law
prescribes imprisonment in the state prison as either an alternative
or the sole penalty, regardless of the sentence the particular
11362.5. (a) This section shall be known and may be cited as the
Compassionate Use Act of 1996.
(b) (1) The people of the State of California hereby find and
declare that the purposes of the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 are as
(A) To ensure that seriously ill Californians have the right to
obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes where that medical use
is deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician who has
determined that the person's health would benefit from the use of
marijuana in the treatment of cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain,
spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or any other illness for
which marijuana provides relief.
(B) To ensure that patients and their primary caregivers who
obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes upon the recommendation
of a physician are not subject to criminal prosecution or sanction.
(C) To encourage the federal and state governments to implement a
plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana
to all patients in medical need of marijuana.
(2) Nothing in this section shall be construed to supersede
legislation prohibiting persons from engaging in conduct that
endangers others, nor to condone the diversion of marijuana for
(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no physician in
this state shall be punished, or denied any right or privilege, for
having recommended marijuana to a patient for medical purposes.
(d) Section 11357, relating to the possession of marijuana, and
Section 11358, relating to the cultivation of marijuana, shall not
apply to a patient, or to a patient's primary caregiver, who
possesses or cultivates marijuana for the personal medical purposes
of the patient upon the written or oral recommendation or approval of
(e) For the purposes of this section, "primary caregiver" means
the individual designated by the person exempted under this section
who has consistently assumed responsibility for the housing, health,
or safety of that person.
11362.9. (a) (1) It is the intent of the Legislature that the state
commission objective scientific research by the premier research
institute of the world, the University of California, regarding the
efficacy and safety of administering marijuana as part of medical
treatment. If the Regents of the University of California, by
appropriate resolution, accept this responsibility, the University of
California shall create a program, to be known as the California
Marijuana Research Program.
(2) The program shall develop and conduct studies intended to
ascertain the general medical safety and efficacy of marijuana and,
if found valuable, shall develop medical guidelines for the
appropriate administration and use of marijuana.
(b) The program may immediately solicit proposals for research
projects to be included in the marijuana studies. Program
requirements to be used when evaluating responses to its solicitation
for proposals, shall include, but not be limited to, all of the
(1) Proposals shall demonstrate the use of key personnel,
including clinicians or scientists and support personnel, who are
prepared to develop a program of research regarding marijuana's
general medical efficacy and safety.
(2) Proposals shall contain procedures for outreach to patients
with various medical conditions who may be suitable participants in
research on marijuana.
(3) Proposals shall contain provisions for a patient registry.
(4) Proposals shall contain provisions for an information system
that is designed to record information about possible study
participants, investigators, and clinicians, and deposit and analyze
data that accrues as part of clinical trials.
(5) Proposals shall contain protocols suitable for research on
marijuana, addressing patients diagnosed with the acquired
immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) or the human immunodeficiency virus
(HIV), cancer, glaucoma, or seizures or muscle spasms associated with
a chronic, debilitating condition. The proposal may also include
research on other serious illnesses, provided that resources are
available and medical information justifies the research.
(6) Proposals shall demonstrate the use of a specimen laboratory
capable of housing plasma, urine, and other specimens necessary to
study the concentration of cannabinoids in various tissues, as well
as housing specimens for studies of toxic effects of marijuana.
(7) Proposals shall demonstrate the use of a laboratory capable of
analyzing marijuana, provided to the program under this section, for
purity and cannabinoid content and the capacity to detect
(c) In order to ensure objectivity in evaluating proposals, the
program shall use a peer review process that is modeled on the
process used by the National Institutes of Health, and that guards
against funding research that is biased in favor of or against
particular outcomes. Peer reviewers shall be selected for their
expertise in the scientific substance and methods of the proposed
research, and their lack of bias or conflict of interest regarding
the applicants or the topic of an approach taken in the proposed
research. Peer reviewers shall judge research proposals on several
criteria, foremost among which shall be both of the following:
(1) The scientific merit of the research plan, including whether
the research design and experimental procedures are potentially
biased for or against a particular outcome.
(2) Researchers' expertise in the scientific substance and methods
of the proposed research, and their lack of bias or conflict of
interest regarding the topic of, and the approach taken in, the
(d) If the program is administered by the Regents of the
University of California, any grant research proposals approved by
the program shall also require review and approval by the research
(e) It is the intent of the Legislature that the program be
established as follows:
(1) The program shall be located at one or more University of
California campuses that have a core of faculty experienced in
organizing multidisciplinary scientific endeavors and, in particular,
strong experience in clinical trials involving psychopharmacologic
agents. The campuses at which research under the auspices of the
program is to take place shall accommodate the administrative
offices, including the director of the program, as well as a data
management unit, and facilities for storage of specimens.
(2) When awarding grants under this section, the program shall
utilize principles and parameters of the other well-tested statewide
research programs administered by the University of California,
modeled after programs administered by the National Institutes of
Health, including peer review evaluation of the scientific merit of
(3) The scientific and clinical operations of the program shall
occur, partly at University of California campuses, and partly at
other postsecondary institutions, that have clinicians or scientists
with expertise to conduct the required studies. Criteria for
selection of research locations shall include the elements listed in
subdivision (b) and, additionally, shall give particular weight to
the organizational plan, leadership qualities of the program
director, and plans to involve investigators and patient populations
from multiple sites.
(4) The funds received by the program shall be allocated to
various research studies in accordance with a scientific plan
developed by the Scientific Advisory Council. As the first wave of
studies is completed, it is anticipated that the program will receive
requests for funding of additional studies. These requests shall be
reviewed by the Scientific Advisory Council.
(5) The size, scope, and number of studies funded shall be
commensurate with the amount of appropriated and available program
(f) All personnel involved in implementing approved proposals
shall be authorized as required by Section 11604.
(g) Studies conducted pursuant to this section shall include the
greatest amount of new scientific research possible on the medical
uses of, and medical hazards associated with, marijuana. The program
shall consult with the Research Advisory Panel analogous agencies in
other states, and appropriate federal agencies in an attempt to
avoid duplicative research and the wasting of research dollars.
(h) The program shall make every effort to recruit qualified
patients and qualified physicians from throughout the state.
(i) The marijuana studies shall employ state-of-the-art research
(j) The program shall ensure that all marijuana used in the
studies is of the appropriate medical quality and shall be obtained
from the National Institute on Drug Abuse or any other federal agency
designated to supply marijuana for authorized research. If these
federal agencies fail to provide a supply of adequate quality and
quantity within six months of the effective date of this section, the
Attorney General shall provide an adequate supply pursuant to
(k) The program may review, approve, or incorporate studies and
research by independent groups presenting scientifically valid
protocols for medical research, regardless of whether the areas of
study are being researched by the committee.
(l) (1) To enhance understanding of the efficacy and adverse
effects of marijuana as a pharmacological agent, the program shall
conduct focused controlled clinical trials on the usefulness of
marijuana in patients diagnosed with AIDS or HIV, cancer, glaucoma,
or seizures or muscle spasms associated with a chronic, debilitating
condition. The program may add research on other serious illnesses,
provided that resources are available and medical information
justifies the research. The studies shall focus on comparisons of
both the efficacy and safety of methods of administering the drug to
patients, including inhalational, tinctural, and oral, evaluate
possible uses of marijuana as a primary or adjunctive treatment, and
develop further information on optimal dosage, timing, mode of
administration, and variations in the effects of different
cannabinoids and varieties of marijuana.
(2) The program shall examine the safety of marijuana in patients
with various medical disorders, including marijuana's interaction
with other drugs, relative safety of inhalation versus oral forms,
and the effects on mental function in medically ill persons.
(3) The program shall be limited to providing for objective
scientific research to ascertain the efficacy and safety of marijuana
as part of medical treatment, and should not be construed as
encouraging or sanctioning the social or recreational use of
(m) (1) Subject to paragraph (2), the program shall, prior to any
approving proposals, seek to obtain research protocol guidelines from
the National Institutes of Health and shall, if the National
Institutes of Health issues research protocol guidelines, comply with
(2) If, after a reasonable period of time of not less than six
months and not more than a year has elapsed from the date the program
seeks to obtain guidelines pursuant to paragraph (1), no guidelines
have been approved, the program may proceed using the research
protocol guidelines it develops.
(n) In order to maximize the scope and size of the marijuana
studies, the program may do any of the following:
(1) Solicit, apply for, and accept funds from foundations, private
individuals, and all other funding sources that can be used to
expand the scope or timeframe of the marijuana studies that are
authorized under this section. The program shall not expend more
than 5 percent of its General Fund allocation in efforts to obtain
money from outside sources.
(2) Include within the scope of the marijuana studies other
marijuana research projects that are independently funded and that
meet the requirements set forth in subdivisions (a) to (c),
inclusive. In no case shall the program accept any funds that are
offered with any conditions other than that the funds be used to
study the efficacy and safety of marijuana as part of medical
treatment. Any donor shall be advised that funds given for purposes
of this section will be used to study both the possible benefits and
detriments of marijuana and that he or she will have no control over
the use of these funds.
(o) (1) Within six months of the effective date of this section,
the program shall report to the Legislature, the Governor, and the
Attorney General on the progress of the marijuana studies.
(2) Thereafter, the program shall issue a report to the
Legislature every six months detailing the progress of the studies.
The interim reports required under this paragraph shall include, but
not be limited to, data on all of the following:
(A) The names and number of diseases or conditions under study.
(B) The number of patients enrolled in each study by disease.
(C) Any scientifically valid preliminary findings.
(p) If the Regents of the University of California implement this
section, the President of the University of California shall appoint
a multidisciplinary Scientific Advisory Council, not to exceed 15
members, to provide policy guidance in the creation and
implementation of the program. Members shall be chosen on the basis
of scientific expertise. Members of the council shall serve on a
voluntary basis, with reimbursement for expenses incurred in the
course of their participation. The members shall be reimbursed for
travel and other necessary expenses incurred in their performance of
the duties of the council.
(q) No more than 10 percent of the total funds appropriated may be
used for all aspects of the administration of this section.
(r) This section shall be implemented only to the extent that
funding for its purposes is appropriated by the Legislature in the
annual Budget Act.