Official documents of cannabis-related legislature:
The California Compassionate Use Act, or Proposition 215, was enacted by voters and took effect on November 6, 1996 as California Health & Safety Code 11362.5. The legislation makes it legal for patients with a physician’s recommendation and their primary caregivers to possess and cultivate marijuana for their personal medical use.
SB420 went into effect January 1, 2004 as California H&SC 11362.7-.83. The legislation supplements Prop 215 by allowing patients to form “collectives” or “cooperatives” to cultivate medical cannabis. It also formed a voluntary state ID card system run through county health departments. Limitations on patient possession and cultivation were also established, and patients were ensured protection from arrest if the guidelines were met.
- How much can I possess?
- How much can I grow?
- What is a caregiver?
- Can I be arrested under Federal law?
- Who qualifies as a physician?
- Which illnesses are recognized?
- Where can I get medical marijuana?
- Can I sell medical marijuana?
- Can I be drug tested and fired from work?
- Can prisoners or probationers use medical cannabis?
- How can I start a collective?
- Does California recognize out-of-state recommendations?
- Can a minor obtain a medical marijuana card?
- Can I grow or use medical marijuana in a home with children?
- Can I own a firearm and a medical marijuana card?
How much can I possess?
Proposition 215 allows for any amount of marijuana necessary for the patients personal use. However, prosecution is more likely if a patient exceeds SB420’s limitations. SB420 sets a statewide standard of 6 mature or 12 immature plants, and a 1/2 pound of processed cannabis per patient. Cities are allowed to enact higher, but not lower, limitations. See local limitations. Patients may be exempt if their physician explicitly states they require a higher limitation — however beware of “cultivation” licenses.
In 2010 the state Supreme Court ruled in the case of People v. Kelly, that patients cannot be prosecuted for solely exceeding the limitations established by SB420; however they will still be arrested and required to defend their personal use in a court of law.
How much can I grow?
Patients may cultivate cannabis themselves, designate a caregiver, or join a collective. It should be noted that landlords are not required to allow home cultivation. Many cities and counties have also established zoning guidelines for growing ganja. See local zoning guidelines. Also, collectives larger than 100 plants may be subject to Federal prosecution.
What is a caregiver?
Caregivers are defined as: “The individual designated by the person exempted under this act who has consistently assumed responsibility for the housing, health, or safety of that person.”. According to the state Supreme Court ruling, People v Mentch (2008), a caregiver must provide another service other than cannabis.
Can I be arrested under Federal law?
Yes. Federal law trumps state law.
Under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, possession of any marijuana is a misdeamoner and cultivation is a felony. This was challenged in a Supreme Court ruling, Gonzalez v Raich (June 2005), where two patients argued that their personal medicinal use did not constitute in interstate commerce. The government replied by saying that the patients were not allowed to use the term “medical marijuana” in court – they were simply trafficking a drug “marijuana”.
Patients are also not safe on any federal property. There have been reports of patients being searched, charged with a Federal misdemeanor and had their medicine confiscated.
Who qualifies as a physician?
Physicians, osteopaths, and surgeons who are licensed to practice in California. Chiropractors, herbal therapists, etc, do not qualify.
Physicians are protected from Federal prosecution under the Conant U.S. court ruling.
Which illnesses are recognized?
The proposition lists “cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief”. Doctors have been known to be incredibly lenient, allowing a range of illnesses such as insomnia, PMS, PTSD, addiction, and more.
Where can I get medical marijuana?
Proposition 215 does not allow for the sale of medical marijuana. However in accordance with the state’s AG and SB420, several collectives and dispensaries provide medical marijuana to patients.
Can I sell medical marijuana?
No. Proposition 215 does not allow for the sale of medical marijuana. Caregivers and collective members may collect compensation for their labor on a non-profit basis. Growers looking to provide patients with pot should be part of a collective or cooperative.
Can I be drug tested and fired from work?
Yes. The California Supreme Court has ruled that employers have the right to drug test and terminate their employees based on the results (Ross v RagingWire, 2008). Some employers are more lenient. Federal employment has a zero drug policy (transportation, military, etc).
Can prisoners or probationers use medical cannabis?
Yes. However, medical cannabis may not be used on any Federal property – including prisons.
How can I start a collective?
The AG has released guidelines and limitations on the matter. Check out these tips.
Does California recognize out-of-state recommendations?
Can a minor obtain a medical marijuana card?
Yes, with parental consent.
Can I grow or use medical marijuana in a home with children?
Yes. But care should be taken to keep any medication and grows secured and away from the children.
Can I own a firearm and a medical marijuana card?
Yes, if you currently own a gun.
In 2011, the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms sent warning letters to gun dealers warning them not to sell to medical marijuana patients. During the purchase, you may be asked whether or not you use illegal drugs and/or medical marijuana. Answering yes makes you ineligible for purchase, and a false no is punishable as perjury.
It should be noted that the use or possession of a firearm with a drug offense can lead to more severe penalties. Firearms should be kept separate from any medical marijuana grows.