California Cannabis Facts

Updated on April 30, 2020.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

California Medical Marijuana Facts

California’s marijuana laws are relatively liberal compared to other U.S. states, including its rules for medical marijuana. Curious to know more about California medical marijuana? Read on for California medical marijuana facts and figures.

California Marijuana Laws

  • California became the first state in the nation to allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. In 1996, voters in California passed Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act. This law decriminalized the use of medical marijuana among patients, primary caregivers and doctors.
  • California lawmakers created a medical marijuana ID card program in 2003 with the passage of the Medical Marijuana Program Act.
  • Voters paved the way for the use of recreational marijuana in 2016 by passing Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. This law reduced or eliminated criminal penalties for non-medical marijuana users who were 21 and older. The new law also created the framework for California’s regulation of recreational marijuana, including the licensing of recreational marijuana dispensaries.
  • Starting in 2020, dispensaries can donate cannabis products to qualified patients or primary caregivers. This capability was instituted by the passage of Senate Bill 34.

Medical Marijuana Facts for California

  • More than 10,000 commercial cannabis retail licenses have been issued in California. The Bureau of Cannabis Control, CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing and the Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch can all issue licenses.
  • You can only use cannabis on private property in California. Smoking, eating, vaping and other forms of cannabis use are prohibited in public places, as well as within 1,000 feet of schools, daycare centers and youth centers while children are present.
  • According to state records, 100,463 patients have been issued medical marijuana cards. There are 8,844 registered primary caregivers in the state’s medical marijuana program.
  • San Francisco County has the highest number of registered medical marijuana patients at 24,275. Los Angeles County has the second-highest number at 11,684 patients. Other counties with high numbers of patients include Riverside (9,710), Marin (6,923) and Alameda (6,517). 
  • There are a number of qualifying conditions included in California’s medical marijuana program. These include severe nausea, migraine, persistent muscle spasms, glaucoma, cancer, chronic pain, AIDS and arthritis, just to name a few.
  • California does not recognize medical marijuana ID cards from other states. You’ll need to check with the state you plan on visiting to see if they will accept your California medical marijuana ID card.
  • To get a medical marijuana card, you’ll apply in your county at the appropriate office. You must apply for your card in the county in which you live.

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