Updated on April 24, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
One of the more important California marijuana facts is that it became the first medical marijuana state, when voters passed Proposition 215, in 1996, effectively removing 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.
In 2004, Senate Bill 420 established a voluntary medical marijuana card registry for California patients and attempted to define how much cannabis patients could grow or possess. Although these guidelines state that there is a possession limit of 8 ounces per patient or caregiver, the California Supreme Court has affirmed that a patient may, in fact, possess marijuana up to whatever is “the amount needed for a patient’s personal use”, as determined by their doctor. Applicable medical conditions include cancer, chronic pain, cachexia, epilepsy, seizures, muscle spasms, glaucoma, severe nausea and HIV/AIDS, and more.
An even more sweeping development occurred in 2016 when California voters approved Amendment 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. This amendment effectively ended cannabis prohibition in the state, replacing it with a system that taxes and regulates weed in a manner that is similar to alcohol.
At its peak, it was estimated that there were over 2000 dispensaries in the state, however, after crackdowns by federal officials, that number rapidly decreased, with roughly 20% of dispensaries closing in just the last 3 months of 2011.
The California Department of Public Health had issued 57,610 marijuana cards as of 2011 — because of the optional nature of the program, this is only a small fraction of medical marijuana patients. The most recent estimates by NORML, place the true number at over 750,000 – 1,125,000 patients.
There are 5932 registered caregivers in California.
San Francisco County has the highest number of registered patients at 17812, roughly 30% of the state’s total. Marin County is the next highest, at 4841 patients, followed by Alameda (3918), Riverside (3775) and Los Angeles (3609).
According to the Public Policy Institute (PPI) of California, 53 percent of Californians believe pot should be legal, while 45 percent say it should not be legal. This is in line with a Pew Center Research poll conducted in 2015, where 53 percent of adults in the U.S. believe weed should be legal and 44 percent do not.
PPI also reported 63 percent of Democrats in the state support marijuana legalization, while 44 percent of Republicans feel the same way. Since 2010, support among Republicans has increased by 10 percentage points.
Among the more interesting marijuana facts for California, according to the PPI report, is that for the time, more people age 55 and older in the state believe weed should be legal, 52 percent, compared to those who do not (45 percent). This is a 10-point shift from the last time older Californians were polled on this issue, in 2010.
Support for legalization was up in all areas of the state except the Central Valley. Since 2010, support in the Bay Area increased from 56 percent to 64 percent. In the Los Angeles area, support increased from 49 to 52 percent. In the Central Valley, however, support decreased from 47 percent to 45 percent.
If you want to stay updated on California medical marijuana facts as well as developments nationwide, check MarijuanaDoctors.com regularly. We will continue to strive to provide you with the relevant, updated information you need in order to make the best possible choices for your health.