Medical Marijuana in California

marijuana and medical black bag
Maxim Apryatin/shutterstock

California has always been the promise land to many Americans. From the luster of making it big in Hollywood to the gorgeous adventurous canvas of the Rocky Mountains or the massive swells of liquid pipe that is produced by the Pacific Ocean. Since 1996 another attractor to the massive state’s general acceptance of the use of marijuana. Nowadays it seems as though marijuana is topic of most political discussions from policy to its true medical benefits or advancements in quality of life.

Now if you are one of the many who are looking to flock to California, or have already, and are interested in the use of medical marijuana; you may have a few questions

Is it legal?

In short, Yes. So everyone knows why lawyers make so much money: The law is a language almost as hard to understand or learn as Latin. They can persuade those in positions of determining justice by distinguishing letter of the law and spirit of the law. So if you are truly uncertain about your rights or the statutes of the law, you should consult legal counsel to protect yourself.

Ok so what is marijuana?

Marijuana is defined by the state of California as: all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, its seeds, or its resin. It does not include the mature stalks of the plant, fiber produced from the stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of the plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of the plant which is incapable of germination” (H&SC 11018).

Knowing what the state considers marijuana allows you to understand what applies to you as a medical marijuana patient.

How Do I smoke weed legally in California then?

To get your Medical Marijuana Card you must receive a written verifiable recommendation from a California board licensed physician. Once you have your doctor’s recommendation you can legally grow, consume & possess your medicine under California State Law Prop 215. Prop. 215 lists “cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief. Physicians have recommended marijuana for hundreds of indications, including such common complaints as insomnia, PMS, post-traumatic stress, depression, and substance abuse.

Now does this mean you have to go see your regular physician to get a recommendation? No, actually you can see a list of different kinds of doctors. These include Medical Doctors, Physician assistants, osteopathic physicians and assistants, naturopathic physician, advanced registered nurse practitioners and psychiatrists. Now thank you to the good ole U.S of A, if you do choose to get your MMC, your recommendation is protected by the HIPPA privacy agreement. The only way your records would be released would be if requested by the patient.

Now something to remember, using the medicine itself has its limitations. Marijuana smoking in no smoking zones, within 1000 feet of a school or youth center except in private residences; on school buses, in a motor vehicle that is being operated, or while operating a boat is still illegal. And although the state of California says it is legal, the state cannot protect you from felony charges in a federally protected park or Forrest.

How much can I possess now that I have my card?

So legally under prop 215. You are able to possess as much as necessary for your personal medical use. What might ACTUALLY be a better guideline is in the SB 420 statutes, which sets a statewide guideline of 6 mature or 12 immature plants, and 1/2 pound (8 oz.) processed cannabis per patient. So to be safe and avoid any interference, 8 Oz’s.

Where do I find medical marijuana?

So you have your card and you’re ready to purchase your first 1/8th or gram of concentrate to dab the night away, where do you buy it?

In Los Angeles particularly, there are an estimated of 1,000 plus dispensaries. You’ll see the words like collective, or CO-OP, Cooperative, Caregivers PRE-ICO, or PROP D.

The two most important things to look at would be Prop D and Pre-ICO. Pre-ICO refers to dispensaries that were operating prior to 2007. What really helps patients determine a proper business to purchase their medicine from would be the term PROP D. This was a limit by the city of LA to 135 legally operating dispensaries. This means out of the thousand plus dispensaries in LA, only those 135 are selling weed in accordance with the state and city laws. Now shopping at a dispensary that does not fall into this category could result in an arrest.

To just sum everything up, just because it is legal to use marijuana in California does not give you complete freedom to consume without recourse. Knowing the laws and what falls in between the lines of them will help you safely consume and possess marijuana.