Legal States

California Medical Marijuana Qualification

Who Qualifies for Medicinal Marijuana in California

On November 5, 1996, California's Proposition 215 was the first medical marijuana initiative to pass in the United States, making California the very first medical marijuana state. Proposition 215, AKA Prop 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, or CUA, decriminalized the cultivation and use of medical marijuana (also referred to as medical weed, medical pot or medical cannabis) by seriously ill individuals who receive a state licensed physician’s recommendation. The amount of marijuana that patients may possess and/or cultivate varies by city and county. Under California medical marijuana law, the state Department of Public Health established a voluntary medical cannabis ID system, which issues medical marijuana cards (also referred to as cannabis cards, pot cards, or marijuana cards). California's medical marijuana law was amended in 2004 with Senate Bill 420, which added additional protections to the Compassionate Use Act.

Read the full text of Prop 215 here.

How to Qualify for Medical Marijuana in California

  • You must be a California Resident with a valid California I.D. as proof of residency. If you do not have a California I.D. an out of state I.D., passport, or other photo I.D. with proof of residency such as bank statement, utility bill, etc. is acceptable.
  • You must obtain legitimate medical records or documentation from your primary care physician describing their diagnosis. Learn how to request your medical records.
  • You must be 18 years of age or, if under 18, be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • You must obtain a medical marijuana recommendation from a state licensed physician stating you will benefit from the medicinal use of cannabis. Find a qualified medical marijuana doctor in CA.

What Ailments Can Be Treated with Medical Cannabis?

Under California’s medical marijuana law, patients may be recommended marijuana for the following conditions:

Medical Marijuana Access

Some medical marijuana patients will claim they have a doctor's prescription for medical marijuana, but marijuana prescriptions are in fact illegal. The federal government classifies marijuana as a schedule I drug. Therefore doctors are unable to prescribe marijuana to their patients, and medical marijuana patients cannot go to a pharmacy to fill a prescription for medical marijuana. Instead, medical marijuana physicians will supply patients with a medical marijuana recommendation in compliance with state law.

According to California medical marijuana laws, patients and their caregivers may cultivate their own medical marijuana or they may purchase their medicine from cannabis collectives and cooperatives. Senate Bill 420 explicitly allows for collectives and cooperatives and there is nothing in state law to prohibit collectives and cooperatives from dispensing medical pot. See our list of dispensaries to find a medical marijuana cooperative near you. Possession limits vary by city and county.