Legally Obtaining Medical Marijuana in California


With California’s passage of Proposition 64 in 2016, which effectively legalized the recreational use and possession of marijuana, you may be wondering whether it’s still worthwhile to keep getting your marijuana as a medical user. Why go through the hassle of legally obtaining medical marijuana in California if you can just buy it for recreational use? However, there are still several advantages to being a medical marijuana patient.

Before delving further into the pros and cons of obtaining your marijuana as a medical patient, it’s best to take a step back and gain some perspective on California’s cannabis laws. There are now two basic groups of regulations – those that apply to recreational marijuana and those that apply to medical marijuana. We’ll begin by overviewing California’s recently adopted recreational marijuana law.

Proposition 64 Legalizes the Possession and Use of Cannabis for Recreational Purposes

As of November 9, 2016, it is legal for any person over 21 years of age to do any of the following in California:

  • Possess, transport, obtain, or transfer to other adults 21 or older up to one ounce of marijuana or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis, such as hash or oils.
  • Cultivate up to six plants indoors per residence and to keep all the buds produced by these plants. However, you can only have one ounce at a time in open possession – the rest of the harvest must be locked away in your home. Furthermore, your county or city may outlaw outdoor marijuana cultivation.

Basically, the law makes it legal to possess or to grow limited quantities of marijuana for recreational purposes. Now, licensed cannabis stores have begun operating

How to Obtain Medical Marijuana in California

Under Proposition 215, anyone in California – including non-residents – with the following medical issues may qualify for the medical use, possession, and cultivation of marijuana:

  • Cancer
  • Anorexia
  • AIDS
  • Chronic pain
  • Spasticity
  • Glaucoma
  • Arthritis
  • Migraines
  • Any other illness for which marijuana provides relief such as anxiety, insomnia, premenstrual syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and addiction

Once you have a written recommendation from a licensed physician, Proposition 215 and 2015’s Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) entitle you to:

  • Possess as much marijuana as is needed to treat yourself
  • Buy as much marijuana as you need for your treatment from any licensed medical marijuana dispensary
  • Cultivate up to 100 square feet of marijuana plants – so long as you obey county and city rules that may limit your rights under Proposition 215
  • Protection from prosecution for state marijuana-related offenses

Why Is it Best to Obtain my Marijuana as a Medical Marijuana Patient?

The only drawback to getting your marijuana as a patient is that you will need to schedule, attend, and pay for an appointment with a doctor – and hope that they agree that marijuana is the right treatment for you. Seeing the overwhelming evidence pointing to marijuana’s potential to treat a wide array of medical issues, it is likely that your doctor will recommend marijuana. If not, you can get a second opinion.

The advantages of obtaining marijuana as a medical patient are numerous:

  • You will be exempt from paying sales tax on the marijuana you buy from recreational marijuana stores (if you have a medical marijuana ID card, which are available for $50 to $100 dollars, depending on your income)
  • Ability to purchase marijuana if you are over 18 but under 21 years of age
  • No hard limit on the amount of marijuana you can purchase
  • Ability to grow up to 100 square feet of marijuana plants as an individual, as long as you obey local laws

Defending Your Marijuana Charges

Despite all of your precautions in abiding by California’s marijuana laws, you may still find yourself facing criminal prosecution over your recreational or medical cannabis use. A local prosecutor may charge you with growing too many plants, or with operating grow operation that violates local ordinances. You may get caught with over an ounce of marijuana without a doctor’s recommendation, in which case you might face drug possession or even trafficking charges depending on the circumstances.

Fortunately, a skilled San Diego marijuana lawyer can help you overcome these and other legal challenges. If you are a medical user, you have the right to a pre-trial hearing during which the authorities must prove that they have evidence that you are not a qualified patient. If you win this hearing, the charges against you may be dismissed. Even if your case goes to trial, the prosecutor must prove every element of the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a difficult burden to meet, especially when a good defense lawyer stands in the way.

Some California residents end up facing federal charges over their use or cultivation of marijuana. Whether you got caught smoking a joint on federal land, or the DEA investigated your grow operation on suspicion of interstate marijuana trafficking, attorney Jessica McElfresh can help bring your case to a positive resolution through aggressive advocacy.

To learn more about how McElfresh Law can help you specifically, call us today at (858) 756-7107 for a consultation of your case.

This website is intended for informational purposes only. Use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship. Free consultation for criminal defense cases only. Cannabis business consultation requires a fee.