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In 1996, voters enacted Proposition 215, the California Compassionate Use Act. This law sites that California residents and caregivers can legally obtain, possess, and cultivate marijuana for the medical treatment of ailments if prescribed by a California licensed physician. Prop 215 allows physicians to legally recommend medical marijuana if they are a medical doctor or osteopath and report that they recommend marijuana.
In 2004, statute SB420 took effect. This statute established more specific limits as to how much medical marijuana one can possess and grow. It also enacted a state ID card system for law enforcers to verify the authenticity of medical marijuana identification cards (MMICs), preventing arrests of many patients and their caregivers. SB420 protects MMIC holders from being arrested for the possession of plants or concentrated forms like edibles. SB420 also allows for leasing a space to distribute cannabis to other MMIC holders.
Proposition 215 allows for the possession and cultivation of whatever amount of marijuana is necessary for medical use by the patient, but there are certain guidelines you should follow to avoid arrest. SB 420 set a statewide limit of 6 mature plants or 12 immature plants, and ½ pound or 8 ounces of processed marijuana per each patient. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in People v. Kelly that a patient cannot be arrested solely for exceeding those limits, however, many patients are still raided and arrested in response to neighbor complaints of housing excessive amounts. If you are charged with illegal cultivation or usage, you have the right to request dismissal of those charges at a pretrial hearing upon statement of your medical claim. If successful and charges are dropped, you may claim damages and request to have your property returned.
The possession of any marijuana outside of the state is a misdemeanor and cultivation is ruled as a felony by the United States Controlled Substances Act. While on federal park land within California, you are not protected by Proposition 215. Also, the United States Department of Housing allows for landlords and property owners to set their own policies in regards to medical marijuana possession and cultivation, so it’s important to seek out information in your county and building before obtaining medical cannabis.
Any individual that is responsible for the health, safety, and housing of a person in need of medical marijuana is legally considered a caregiver. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled in People v. Mentch that the caregiver must also supply another service to their patience, other than solely providing Marijuana.
SB420 prohibits the use of medical marijuana in the proximity of 1000 feet of a youth center or school, in a vehicle or boat that is running, and in no smoking zones.
Click here to read more about the history of medical marijuana in the state of California.