California Medical Marijuana Laws

At a Glance

Some general marijuana statistics for the state of California.

  • Decriminalized: Yes
  • Medical Marijuana: Yes
  • Registered Patients: 10,941
  • Marijuana Arrests: 78,409
(Updated: 20 Apr 2010)

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.

Laws & Penalties for the Recreational User Click for Details

People who are not registered with an (up to date) identification card to use or provide caregiving with medical marijuana.

Possession Severity Incarceration Fine
28.5 g or less (details)
This is the copy
Infraction none $100
28.6 g or more (details) Misdemeanor 6 months $500
Cultivation Severity Prison Fine
Any amount (exception for patients or caregivers) Felony   16 - 36 months  $0
Sale Severity Prison Fine
Gift of less than 28.5 g Misdemeanor n/a $100
Any amount Felony 2-4 years  n/a
Other Severity
Paraphernalia, license suspensions, drug tax stamps, etc.  Any conviction of minor under 21 causes driver's license suspension for 1 year. 

Laws & Penalties for Patients Click for Details

People certified to grow use medical marijuana. Qualifying Conditions include AIDS, anorexia, arthritis, cachexia, cancer, chronic pain, glaucoma, migraine, persistent muscle spasms, including those associated with multiple sclerosis, seizures associated with but not limited to epilepsy, severe nausea

-Originally approved Nov. 5, 1996 by 56% of voters, Effective: Nov. 6, 1996

What it means: 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.

Approved Conditions: AIDS, anorexia, arthritis, cachexia (“wasting syndrome”), cancer, chronic pain, glaucoma, migraine, persistent muscle spasms (including spasms associated with multiple sclerosis), seizures (including seizures associated with epilepsy), severe nausea; Other chronic or persistent medical symptoms that either: (1. Substantially limits the ability of the person to conduct more or more major life activity (as defined by Americans with Disability Act of 1990)  2. If not alleviated may cause serious harm to the patients safety, physical or mental health.)

-Bill was amended to be Effective: Jan. 1, 2004
Imposes statewide “guidelines” outlining how much “qualified” medicinal marijuana “patients” may grow and possess.

Possession/Cultivation: Qualified patients and 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 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. S.B. 420 also grants implied legal protection to the state's medicinal marijuana dispensaries.
(The Sum= Basically, don’t have more than you are allowed, unless it is absolutely life threatening, because you are, in fact, risking your freedom).

-Attorney General of California wrote “Guidelines” on Aug. 25, 2008:

California Attorney General, Jerry Brown, issued guidelines for law enforcement and medical marijuana patients to clarify the state's laws. -Qualified Patient Registry Fee:? $66 non Medi-Cal / $33 Medi-Cal, plus additional county fees (varies by location)

-Accepts other states' registry ID cards? ?No

-Registration: ?Voluntary

Laws & Penalties for Caregivers or Dispensaries

People certified to grow and provide medical marijuana to certified patients. The Patient/ Caretaker Registration Fee is $66/$33 Medi-Cal (plus any fees mandated by the county). Dispensary fees vary by county.

Related News & Information

Learn More About Federal Marijuana Laws   Read About the Laws in Other States