In 1996, California passed Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which removed criminal penalties for the use, possession and growing of marijuana for individuals who have the written or oral approval from their physician that he or she would benefit from using the marijuana for medical reasons. The legal stipulations in the Act regarding using and growing marijuana are meant to ensure that the plant is used and grown solely for medical purposes. Although licenses to grow marijuana are not required in the state of California, a medical marijuana identification card is available to prove that the individual is part of California's Medical Marijuana Program. You may also grow marijuana if you are a caregiver for someone who needs the drug.
Obtain permission from a doctor that you will benefit from using marijuana due to a debilitating illness. Conditions that are approved for the treatment of medical marijuana include, but are not limited to the following: AIDS, anorexia, arthritis, cancer, glaucoma, migraine, persistent muscle spasms, seizures and severe nausea as well as other chronic or persistent medical symptoms as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Approval to use marijuana for a medical condition is necessary for either using marijuana or growing it. Only qualifying patients or their caregivers are legally allowed to grow marijuana in California.
Apply for a medical marijuana identification card. The card will allow you to be easily identified as part of California's Medical Marijuana Program. Fill out and submit an application. Provide your physicians recommendations, proof of identity, proof of California residency and the application fee to the program in your county. This fee is between $33 and $66 depending on your area.
Cultivate only the legally allowed amount at one time. In California, an individual who is part of the Medical Marijuana Program is not allowed to possess more than 8 ounces of dried marijuana or six mature marijuana plants. The patient or caregiver may possess more than that amount depending on the specific legislation of the county they live in. Local ordinances may also permit possession/growth of larger amounts.
Tips & Warnings
- Medical marijuana users may form a collective to grow, share and support the use of medical marijuana. These collectives must stay within the legal amount of possession under the program. For instance, if the collective has 15 participants who use marijuana under the program, and they are each allowed to possess 8 ounces at a time, then the collective would be allowed to possess a total of 120 ounces at any time.
- Collectives or dispensaries may be required to obtain a business license, depending on the county in which they are located. They should check with their county or the State Attorney General's office for specific requirements.
- ProCon.org: Medical Marijuana: California
- California Secretary of State: Argument Against Proposition 215
- California Department of Public Health: Patient (Applicant) Responsibilities
- California Department of Public Health: Medical Marijuana Program
- Department of Justice, State of California: Guidelines for the Security and Non-diversion of Marijuana Grown for Medical Use
- Photo Credit John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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