Updated on January 3, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Medical marijuana penalties in California became a great deal more lenient in 2016, when voters in the state approved Amendment 64, which ultimately became the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. The Act ended the prohibition of weed in California, making it legal to possess small amounts for personal use. Marijuana is now regulated and taxed in a manner similar to alcohol.
There are several specific conditions on the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in California, including anorexia, arthritis, cancer, chronic pain, glaucoma, migraine headaches and many others. However, a physician can recommend medical weed to a patient who is suffering from debilitating illness. The physician need only have the medical opinion that use of cannabis would provide medicinal benefits.
Caregivers in California must be at least 18 years of age and agree to assume responsibility for a patient’s safety, health or housing. A primary caregiver can be less than 18 years old if he or she is the parent of a child who suffers from a qualifying medical condition.
Both patients and medical users alike can cultivate no more than six marijuana plants, with no more than three of them being mature at any one time. Patients can grow cannabis together in cooperatives, also known as collectives. Dispensaries will ultimately open throughout the state, but that is not expected to occur until 2018.
Patients are allowed to grow whatever amount of cannabis is necessary to address their medical condition, but if they exceed “reasonable” amounts, they could be cited or fined. The law states that patients with qualifying conditions are allowed to use up to 100 square feet of space to cultivate weed for their medical use. Caregivers who have five or fewer patients are allowed up to 500 square feet of cultivation space. Local governments, however, have the ability to either restrict or ban cultivation of pot for medical purposes. Cultivation of six or more plants for non-medical use carries penalties of up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.
Patients can grow cannabis in their homes. However, if they live on a rental property, their landlord will not be required by law to allow that cultivation. There are some counties and cities in the state that have outlawed the cultivation of cannabis completely.
California residents are allowed to legally possess up to an ounce of weed. If someone has up to 28.5 grams of marijuana, is 18 years of age or older and is caught possessing it on school property, he or she will face up to 10 days in jail and a fine of $500. Someone younger than 18 possessing the same amount on school grounds will face up to 10 days in a juvenile detention center and a maximum $250 fine.
However, probation may be available for those facing California medical marijuana penalties, as well as penalties associated with non-medical, cannabis-related offenses. Those convicted of previous felony offenses involving controlled substances, however, are not eligible.
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