Updated on January 23, 2020. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
California Department of Public Health
Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program
P.O. Box 997377
Sacramento, CA 95899-7377
Phone: (916) 552-8600
Fax: (916) 440-5591
Website: California Medical Marijuana Program
As legislation in California changes, check back to this section for updates about the medical and recreational marijuana programs.
California medical marijuana users, as well as recreational users, rejoiced when, on November 8, 2016, voters approved Amendment 64, which put an end to cannabis prohibition in the state. Also known as AUMA (the Adult Use of Marijuana Act), the measure requires that the state tax and regulate weed in a manner much like alcohol. The Amendment passed by a 56 percent vote.
However, California has a long history of being ahead of the curve when it comes to marijuana legislation. On November 05, 1996, 56% of voters approved Ballot Proposition 215, effective November 06, which removed state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients possessing either a “written or oral recommendation” from their physician, advising that he or she may benefit from the medical use of marijuana.
On January 01, 2004, Senate Bill 420, was effectively amended, imposing statewide guidelines on how much medicinal marijuana patients may cultivate or possess.
On August 25, 2008, California Attorney General Jerry Brown, released guidelines for law enforcement and medical marijuana patients, titled “Guidelines for the Security and Non-division of Marijuana Grown for Medicinal Use“. The non-binding document clarifies the state’s law. It also outlines the definition of a recommended physician as someone who:
It also gives the Medical Board of California the right to investigate physicians who do not comply with accepted medical standards which include but are not limited to: taking a medical history of the patients, conducting a thorough physican examination of the patient, developing a treatment plan with clear objectives, providing informed consent and informing patient of side effects, checking in on treatment’s efficacy, consulting, and keeping proper records of the patient’s treatment with medical marijuana.
On October 09, 2015, California Attorney General, Jerry Brown, signed three bills to regulate California’s medical marijuana industry, covering licensing requirements for cultivation, distribution, transportation, and more: AB 243, AB 266, and SB 634.
On June 27, 2017, Senate Bill 94, the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) was signed into law. This repealed the MCRSA and consolidated the state’s medicinal and adult use cannabis regulatory systems. (Ibid.) In general, the MAUCRSA imposed similar requirements on both commercial medicinal and adult-use cannabis activity.
In April 2018, the Medical Board of California issued its “Guidelines for the Recommendation of Cannabis for Medical Purposes.” The acceptable standard for medical responsibility are the same ones that a reasonable and prudent physician would follow when recommending any medication. These include: Physician-patient relationship, patient evaluation, informed and shared decision making, treatment agreement, qualifying conditions, ongoing monitoring and adapting treatment, consultation and referral, medical records, and physician conflict of interest. (https://oag.ca.gov/system/files/attachments/press-docs/MEDICINAL%20CANNABIS%20Guidelines.pdf)
In August 2019, California Department of Justice released the “Guidelines for the Security and Non-Diversion of Cannabis Grown for Medicinal Use”. This clarifies the state’s laws governing medicinal cannabis, specifically related to enforcement, transportation, and use of medicinal cannabis. (https://oag.ca.gov/system/files/attachments/press-docs/MEDICINAL%20CANNABIS%20Guidelines.pdf)
SB-1127 allows California schools to decide if parents can give their children medical marijuana on school premises. Students would need a recommendation from a doctor, and the marijuana cannot be stored on campus. (https://patch.com/california/malibu/11-new-ca-laws-may-change-your-life-2020)
Qualified medical marijuana patients in California and their primary caregivers may possess no more than eight ounces of dried marijuana, and/or six mature (or 12 immature) marijuana plants. However, Senate Bill 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 cannabis than allowed under the new state guidelines.
Senate Bill 420 also grants implied legal protection to the state’s medicinal marijuana dispensaries, stating the following:
“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.”
Patients suffering from a wide range of symptoms are eligible to obtain medical marijuana in California. These include:
Our section on Who Qualifies for Marijuana in California provides detailed information on qualification guidelines in the state, as well as restrictions on age and much more.