Does California allow medical marijuana?▼▲
On November 5, 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana by passing Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which allowed patients and their caregivers to possess and cultivate marijuana; protected doctors that recommended medicinal marijuana use; and allowed for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana for all patients.
However, it wasn't until 2003 and California Senate Bill 420, also known as the Medical Marijuana Program Act, that many lingering issues with Prop 215 were clarified and state possession and cultivation guidelines were established for patients without the threat of arrest or prosecution. California Senate Bill 420 also created California's medical marijuana ID card program, which is the blueprint for many states' medical marijuana licensing systems.
Do California weed laws allow recreational-use marijuana? ▼▲
While California was the first state to allow medical marijuana in 1996, it took 20 years for California's recreational weed laws to finally permit recreational marijuana usage in the state. In 2016, almost eight million California residents -- 57 percent -- voted to legalize marijuana with Proposition 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which legalized several cannabis-related activities such as the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana for adults 21 years and older.
Today, anyone with a valid, 21+ ID is able to purchase, possess, cultivate, and consume cannabis under certain restrictions.
For more information, please see our recreational marijuana in California overview
Where are the dispensaries located in California?▼▲
Due to the relatively short period of legalization -- stores have only been open to the public since January 1, 2018 -- and a myriad of legal and regulatory challenges to local cannabis businesses, it is unknown exactly how many dispensaries there are in the state of California. For some, particularly in more progressive communities, there are dispensaries on every street corner. For others, the closest dispensary may be hundreds of miles away due to municipalities that have altogether prevented or prohibitively limited the number of dispensaries within their borders.
Indeed, marijuana laws in California give county and local governments the authority to ban marijuana businesses, but, thankfully, they cannot limit the movement and legal delivery of marijuana products on public roads.
In general, if you want to buy marijuana flower in California
, most dispensaries are located in and around the major cities, with a smattering of dispensaries as you move into more suburban and rural areas. Take a look at some of our featured dispensaries throughout the sunshine state:
For more on dispensaries and recreational marijuana sales in California, check out our blog.
Are the California dispensaries recreational or medical?▼▲
Both recreational and medical dispensaries are fully-functional in nearly every part of the state, though the type and location of dispensaries is still largely up to county and local governments.
In 2015, there were more than 800 operational medical dispensaries in California, representing an average of 2.1 dispensaries per 100,000 people. While no official audit of recreational stores has taken place since legalization, the Bureau of Cannabis Control has issued 2,500 temporary licenses, a far cry from the tens of thousands of marijuana businesses estimated to be operating in the state.
Payment Methods Accepted at Dispensaries in California▼▲
Due to a conflict between California weed laws and federal banking laws, most dispensaries in California operate on a cash basis. While some dispensaries accept debit cards, the transaction is often run through as if it were an ATM withdrawal. And on that note, most dispensaries have an on-site ATM or two, so if you forget your cash you can usually make a withdrawal just before you make your purchase.
Know Your California Pot Laws - Grow Limits▼▲
California's weed laws allow adults to grow up to six marijuana plants, with no limitation on the number of plants flowering at a time -- to compare, Colorado limits flowering plants to three out of six. However, plants must be grown indoors or in a secured outdoor grow area with no public access. Additional precautions should also be taken for households with minors.
California Purchasing Limits▼▲
According to marijuana laws in California, adults are able to possess and buy up to one ounce (28.5 grams) of marijuana flower or eight grams of marijuana extract or concentrate. This goes for recreational use and medical marijuana patients, yet medical marijuana patients and their caregivers are able to carry up to eight ounces of marijuana.
If an individual is caught with more than the legal amount, not including marijuana from at-home cultivation that is also kept at home, they can receive misdemeanor criminal charges, fines up to $500 dollars, and up to six months in jail.
Can you go into a dispensary when you're under 21 in California?▼▲
While most dispensaries have a waiting area or lounge, you will not be allowed to browse or purchase product without a valid, 21+ ID. Furthermore, most dispensaries employ security guards or bouncers to check the IDs of everyone that enters the dispensary, so don't think you'll be able to easily sneak in.
How old do you have to be to purchase marijuana in California?▼▲
California pot laws mandate that you must be 21 years of age with a valid ID to purchase marijuana or any cannabis product. Some products, such as CBD based drinks, creams or extracts are available at grocery stores and gift shops, but you must still be 21 and up to purchase.
Do you need a medical card to buy from a dispensary in California? ▼▲
California's recreational weed laws state that you do not need a medical marijuana card to purchase from a marijuana dispensary. However, if you are planning on purchasing more than the legal recreational amount from a dispensary, you will need to go to a medical dispensary with a medical marijuana card.
Do you need a medical card to enter a dispensary in California?▼▲
No. Recreational dispensaries only require a valid, 21+ ID. But if you're looking to enter or purchase from a medical dispensary, you need a valid medical marijuana card.
California Possession/Use Limits▼▲
You might be wondering how much weed you can carry in California
. California cannabis law states that adults can possess up to one ounce (28.5 grams) of marijuana flower, up to eight grams of marijuana concentrate or extract, and can grow up to six plants within their home.
Alternatively, medical marijuana cardholders and registered caregivers are able to carry up to eight ounces of marijuana at one time.
Under marijuana laws in California, cannabis may not be consumed in any public place or any place where tobacco is also prohibited, such as in most restaurants, bars and businesses, or within 1,000 feet of any school, youth center, or day care where children are present.
With all the places you can't light up, the safest place to consume marijuana is in your home or another private property area such as the home of a friend or family member -- just make sure you ask them first!
Marijuana consumption in public falls under the California Controlled Substances Act and carries a fine of $150.
It is estimated that there are almost 70,000 cannabis growers in the state of California. However, most still remain unlicensed due to restrictive licensing laws, and some estimates believe that much of the weed grown in the state of California is exported to other states or ends up on the black market.
Medical and Recreational At-Home Cultivation in California▼▲
According to California recreational weed laws, an adult 21 years or older can grow up to six marijuana plants inside their residence or outside in a secure and designated grow area not accessible to the public. But if you're thinking you and your four roommates can grow 30 plants, think again -- the household limit is also capped at six plants.
Medical cardholders or their caregivers, on the other hand, are eligible to grow up to six mature or 12 non-mature or non-flowering plants.
And if the authorities catch you growing more than the legally allowed limit, you can get hit with a misdemeanor charge, a $500 dollar fine, and end up with six months in jail.
Furthermore, choosing to manufacture concentrated cannabis products, particularly those involving volatile chemicals, carries the possibility of a $50,000 fine and up to seven years in prison.
Thinking about growing your own marijuana in California? For marijuana growing supplies
, visit our grow supply products page.
Adults over the age of 21 are allowed to transport up to 28.5 grams of marijuana flower and up to eight grams of marijuana concentrate, according to California cannabis laws.
Registered medical cardholders and caregivers may transport up to eight ounces of marijuana.
All marijuana must be kept in a child-proof, marijuana storage containers
(sorry, no baggies) and out of reach of the driver, and open containers -- just like with alcohol -- are not allowed.
And, remember, just because marijuana is legal in California, does not mean you're allowed to transport marijuana across state lines, even to another legal state -- that's felony drug trafficking, and the feds don't look too kindly on that kind of activity.
Is marijuana delivery legal in California?▼▲
According to California weed laws, local governments cannot prohibit the transportation of marijuana by a 21+ adult as long as the total amount of marijuana does not exceed one ounce (28.5 grams) and all marijuana is kept sealed in child-proof packaging out of reach of the driver.
It is also legal for medical and recreational marijuana delivery services and dispensary locations to deliver marijuana to legal consumers across the state.
Marijuana and Driving in California▼▲
Both Prop 215 and Prop 64 prohibit the operation of a vehicle while using or under the influence of marijuana or marijuana products. And under California pot laws, even medical cardholders are provided no protection from driving while intoxicated, so it's best for all drivers to wait until the effects of marijuana have subsided before jumping behind the wheel.
Drugged driving currently carries a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in jail for the first offense, including a mandatory six-month driver's license suspension.
California Cannabis Law Notables▼▲
- California was the sixth state to legalize the recreational sale of cannabis, following Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.
- There are a number of 420 friendly communities in California.
- Did you know? California is a part of a cannabis culinary revolution---there are a host of weed restaurants in California. These creative eateries look to pair cannabis with incredible food fare or libations.
- According to California Governor Gavin Newsom, up to 90 percent of all marijuana grown in the state is exported to other states.
- In 2018, the first year of retail legalization, $500,000,000 less of legal marijuana was sold in the state than in the previous year under the medical marijuana system ($2.5 billion to $3 billion). Many say this is due to California's high pot tax rate, prohibitive licensing laws and falling cannabis prices in the state due to overproduction and black market pressure.