Cannabis for medical use was approved in California by 56% of voters on November 5, 1996.

Medical use of cannabis became legal November 6, 1996. marijuana-california

This act removed state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess a “written or oral recommendation” from their physician that he or she “would benefit from medical marijuana.” Patients diagnosed with any debilitating illness where the medical use of marijuana has been “deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician” are afforded legal protection under this act.

Conditions Approved for Use of Medical Marijuana in California


  • AIDS
  • Anorexia
  • Arthritis
  • Cachexia
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Glaucoma
  • Migraine
  • Persistent muscle spasms, including spasms associated with multiple sclerosis
  • Seizures, including seizures associated with epilepsy
  • Severe nausea

· Other chronic or persistent medical symptoms


Cannabis Quantities Allowed


  • Possession: patients (or their primary caregivers) may legally possess no more than eight ounces of dried marijuana and/or six mature cannabis plants. Twelve immature cannabis plants are allowed in place of the six mature ones.
  • Senate Bill 420 allows patients to possess larger amounts of marijuana when recommended by a physician.
  • This legislation also allows councils and municipalities to approve and/or maintain local ordinances permitting patients to possess larger quantities of medicinal weed than allowed under the new state guidelines.


SB 420 also grants implied legal protection to the state’s medicinal marijuana dispensaries, stating, “Qualified patients, persons with valid identification cards, and the designated primary caregivers of qualified patients … who associate within the state of California in order collectively or cooperatively to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes, shall not solely on the basis of that fact be subject to state criminal sanctions.”

May 2012 Update:

Recent news has highlighted federal raids on medical marijuana facilities which has been a disturbing development. In May 2012 the California Congressional Delegation voted 34-18 in favor of House Resolution 4326, aimed at cutting off federal funding for DOJ raids on medical marijuana. Unfortunately the resolution went on to be defeated in the house, but we will be following this matter with interest.

Useful Links

Attorney General’s Guidelines for law enforcement and medical marijuana patients

Get a Medical Marijuana Card in California

500 LA Dispensaries to Close?

Back to Medical Marijuana state laws


Join the discussion 56 Comments

  • MMJ Guides says:

    California is no longer the lead progressive state for marijuana as Colorado and Washington have passed legalization bills. California is still the most seasoned medical marijuana (MMJ) state with Prop 215 passing back in 1996. CA legalization is on the horizon but for now only medical users can utilize this powerful, healing herb. There are some very specific guidelines that must be followed in order to qualify as a qualified medical marijuana provider. Perception is that California follows the “Wild West” rules with regards to weed. In actuality California law enforcement is still arresting growers and providers every day. You need to be sure you are following the same criteria they have for what is LEGAL and qualifies for the medical marijuana law exemption. Check out our California Medical Marijuana Operations page for tips on Opening A Medical Marijuana Collective

  • Sheryl says:

    Smoke-free cannabinoid delivery systems have exploded in popularity with medical marijuana (MMJ) users in recent years, with vaporizers, throat sprays, oral capsules, edibles and other innovations replacing pipes and cigarettes altogether for many patients. These breakthroughs deliver the same therapeutic effects of the drug without the potential dangers and restrictions associated with smoking.

  • Nadia says:

    smoke weed everyday , keep it lit.. I <3 tree

  • drwassist says:

    Hey all,

    Want to be protected in the medical marijuana field? Join us at our seminar on June 23. Learn everything you need to know to stay safe and legal under California law.

    Check it out!

  • What about Louisiana no attempts are being made at all 17 stayed and science proved cannabis has multiple healing properties yet nothing wtf

  • Gerold says:

    Fast, efficient, and knowledgeable physicians. I got my license the same day I went in. If you are in California this is for you

  • mjfemseed says:

    no 1 should have to be sick to feel the benefits of marijuana, what is wrong with being healthy for just wanting to feel better.

  • mjjohn says:

    any suggestions who is not stuck in the stone age should be able to help you.
    california probably the easiest state to obtain a medical marijuana card

  • Dakota says:

    Im 15 and I have severe migraines all the time and have a lot of trouble sleeping at night and have a lot of stress is it possible for a child my age to own a medical card? I have smoked marijuana a couple times and both times I have been headache free and have been able to sleep like a baby.

  • Isaac Elam says:

    Are there doctors who are willing to forgo the fee for a recommendation when a patient does not have a lot of money?

  • marty richardson says:

    I’m curious, if people with legal medical card leave their state such as CA. Can they travel to another state as long as they have their medical card in possession?

    • Steffi says:

      Thought it wloudn’t to give it a shot. I was right.

    • rodney says:

      as far as i know no you cannot if its a california medical card cops anywhere else will try to harrass you or try to arrest my advice try not to get caught cause some state don not allow marijuana and they also do not allow you to use a nother state card its just like a license i do believe

  • Billy says:

    If your doctor wont recommend it go to a doctor who will. This place is where I went after my doctor wouldn’t give me one.

  • Toph says:

    I’m 18, and I have severe anxiety and chronic insomnia.

    I’ve been on every prescription medication (ambien, lunesta, valium) but nothing has worked. I don’t think my doctor would be willing to recommend marijuana.

    Do I have to see a new doctor? Any advice?

  • Tom says:

    What are the laws if i had moved from the uk to cali?

  • Jason says:

    I have my med license from cali. Now will another legal state accept my med card or will I be harassed? I’m only going short term.

  • steven says:

    I’m 16 and have migraines and osgood shlatters real bad in my knees , i live in california , I need to know if i can get perscribed at my age , I need a reply , thanks

  • michaela says:

    I have night terrors which causes insomnia, but if I smoke weed then its way easier for me to sleep. I’ve changed my diet and all that but I’ve never gone to a doctor about it. Could I get a card without proof of consulting a doctor in the past?

    • Mary says:

      Drs. in this field are very compassionate. Just tell him what is going on with you it is not difficult to get a recommendation withoout documentation from a physician.

  • jason says:

    I severely seperated my shoulder a while back and when I sleep i sleep on my side (the one with the seperated shoulder) and it causes me such pain that I am unable to sleep. Would I be eligable to get a medical card?

  • Anthony says:

    Im 15 and recently discovered I have glaucoma does age limit apply? Or is it still 18+?

  • nick says:

    I have anxiety and trouble sleeping i cant sleep at all and im wondering if i am eligible for a medical card?

  • Maryam says:

    i have body aches, and i have insomnia. no matter what i do i cant sleep at all not unless i smoke weed am i eligible to get a medical card? please reply fast

  • Crystal says:

    You would. I have a similar problem. You would just need to find a doctor near you to get the recommendation. I have mine and it honestly helps me a lot.

  • Giorgio says:

    i have really bad migraines. whenever i get them my left eye starts to get an intense pain. the only way to heal it is to sleep or smoke weed. would i be eligible to get a medical card……PLEASE REPLY

    • ToGiorgio says:

      Yes, you are eligible. Look online for an office that does recommendations. Anything under $60 is good for the evaluation, anything over is just absurd. Good luck 🙂

  • Bob says:

    Not in Tehama County California for them its legal entrapment. I am a patient in California. I was in the process of starting a dispensary, when I was arrested.

    I followed all the guidelines set forth by the state. Yet I was still arrested and am in the process of being tried. My public defender says that Tehama county views the law differently and its not legal here. Last I checked Tehama county is in California.

    Look at the Tehama county jail, just about every inmate is in there for marijuana related crimes.The more people they bust the more federal $$$ they get for funding. Hence the 7 new cop cars, they just got.

    1.My advice Make sure your doctor will go to court for you, Mine wont!

    2.Dont get a growers pack from a doctor. They charge you $300 or more for this and it is not defendable in court. The same goes for the ones that the dispensaries dish out.The people at the dispensary told me that if I followed all the guidelines I would be legal. Why am I being told differently by the court system.

    3. If you think that your friends got your back, or if you do get caught with pot that everything will be ok. Think again! My life has been turned upside down. My wife has an auto immune disorder, We have two kids, and now I will more than likely being going to jail.

    Doctors and Dispensaries are miss leading citizens every day, and ruining there lives. California is supposed to be the most liberal state when it comes to medical marijuana yet it has the largest number of marijuana related arrests.

    Prop 215 and SB 420 are either a major failure of the California legal system or else a big scheme to get the stoners to register. Then they bust you take away your voting rights and now you dont have a say. Since 65% of the state wants it legal. Well you do the math. No more pot head majority.

  • MaryJames says:

    I just heard about a group buying website for Cannabis. It’s called I guess they haven’t launched yet. What do you guys think about a service like this? Is it a good idea? Do you think they’ll be successful?

  • MS says:

    Do i have to be an american citizen to get this card? Can u purchase as soon as i get approved?

  • akachi says:

    I’m always stressed out and on little on edge at times, but when I smoke marijuana I feel so relax and all my stress melts away, including being on edge.

    I was wondering am I eligible for medical marijuana? I’m currently living in the state of Mississippi with my grandmother, which she is disable(in a wheelchair). I’ve being helping her out and now I can’t handle the stress anymore. I’ve being struggling with the stressed over years and I’ll usually smoke marijuana for it. I’m planning to back to California in June of this year(2011). Is there any information for this and also I do have lower back pains. please help. 🙁

  • Abe says:

    Get your card today from a real doctor who you see in person at Alternative Health Solutions. Not a fly by night $45 doctor who wont be there with your records when needed.

  • @ Johnny and Ed. Yes, you both would be able to obtain a medical marijuana card in California.
    @ DB I believe if you’re under 18 years of age you would need your parents consent. Don’t quote me on that though.

  • johnny says:

    i have chronic stomache pain, but everytime i smoke weed
    my pain goes completely away. when i do not use marijuana my pain comes back. am i eligible for a marijuana card?

  • Joey says:

    Sunset Super Store Super Grow

    This is the first annual Grow- Op/ Co-Op offered by the greatest store on the planet,The Sunset Super Shop. We are offering you an opportunity to participate in growing your own medicine of your choice on one of our farms in California. SPACE IS LIMITED TO 500 PATIENTS !

    For the first time a compassionate answer from a compassionate care giver .

    OFFERING……………..Donations from Patients only
    $800.00 for 16 ounces
    $400.00 for 8 ounces
    $200.00 for QP or 4 ounces
    $ 50.00 For 1 OZ or 1 Ounce


    Reserve OG
    Purple Haze
    Blue Dream
    NY Diesel
    Hindy Gold
    Bubba Kush
    Super Silver Haze
    White Widow

    Payment Plans
    16 OZ Plans
    $800.00 full payments earns a bonus OZ
    $400.00 Down payment Bill Credit Card for $100 for 4 consecutive weeks.
    $200.00 Down payment Bill Credit Card for $100 for 6 consecutive weeks.
    $100.00 Down Payment Bill Credit Card for $100 for 7 consecutive weeks.

    8 ounce plans
    $400.00 full payment earns bonus 1/2 OZ
    $200.00 Down Payment Bill Credit Card for $100 for 2 consecutive weeks.
    $50.00 Down Payment Bill Credit Card for $100 for 7 consecutive weeks.

    Vias Master and Amex

    Name __________________________________
    Street Adress____________________________
    City_________CA. Zip ____________________
    Card Number____________________________
    Epx ________ CVC#_________
    Billing Adress ___________________________
    City____________CA. Zip _________________

    Authorized Signature ( By Signing on this line you agree to terms and conditions and authorize Sunset Super Shop in accordance with Super Super Grow LLC. to charge your credit card.

    Please allow 12 to 14 weeks for delivery, Grower Reserves right to extend term of contract up to 4 weeks for vegetation. SPACE IS LIMITED TO FIRST 500 PATIENTS
    You must register at Sunset Super Shop first before ordering, This is reserved for Sunset Super Shop ONLY.

    • cory says:

      That’s an awsome deal I wish I knew about that b 4 I went into growing for myself. Anyways I was wondering if u needed any help on any of ur farms I would love to help out doing anything to support the cause. Thanks for ur time.

  • ed says:

    are you able to get a medical marijuana card in California with having H.I.V. and not AIDS

    • Curtis says:

      Of course you are. You can even get Mairinol, which is a common oral marijuana pill for people with HIV or any other medical issues…..

  • db says:

    how old must u be to work in a california disensary

  • jimbo says:

    Does having the card effects your SSI / jimbo

  • wes flores says:

    WE ARE BOTH DIsable (husband& wife) lots of pain over 15years and the price of pot @ dispensary’s is more then we can afford. so half the time we do without,they should regulate for the disable/elderly and veterans.

  • Wm Kent says:

    8 oz and 6 plants is all that a medical user can get. How much stock can a medical dispensary have? Wm KEnt

  • earl says:

    My grandson is 18yrs old and has a medical card says its for his bipolar which all of sudden he said that when he was in foster care they tested him he is always smoking it he’s not in pain he always smoked before for entertainment and fun his step grandmother is upset because all the other kids are under 18yrs of age.

    He has already got into trouble with a police officer no ticket but a smart remark so he has to go to traffic school of some sort there is so much more.

  • Concerned citizen says:

    Found at the News Review in Ridgecrest California – 5 people looking at life in prison – does federal law supersede state law? – does this give the federal government too much power? Check out this story posted at

    NCIS raid shuts down marijuana co-op

    News Review Staff Writer

    Naval Criminal Investigative Services reportedly closed down a medical marijuana dispensary in China Lake Acres, and arrested five individuals as part of the operation. “The investigation is ongoing, so additional details will not be released at this time,” said Ed Buice, NCIS public affairs officer. He said he is not at liberty to discuss the NCIS involvement in the case, since “To do so gets into the elements of the offense.”

    Local agencies, including the Ridgecrest and California City police departments, California Highway Patrol and Ridgecrest and Inyokern substations of the Kern County Sheriff’s Office were involved in the investigation. Representatives of those agencies did not comment beyond confirming that five local arrests were made.

    The use of medical marijuana has been controversial because the practice has been legalized by the state, though not by the federal government. Several residents have been protesting the raid, stating that the co-op was in compliance with state guidelines. Some of those opponents have participated in demonstrations while others spoke out at last week’s town hall meeting.

    Names of the arrested individuals have not yet been released, nor has a formal list of charges or arraignment dates.

  • RJ says:

    This page is a little out of date. In 2010 the case People v. Kelly struck down the limits set by SB420 as unconstitutional. Patients can possess an amount reasonable for their own treatment.

  • Mr. Buds says:

    Great post! I especially like how clearly you state that it is legal to posses up to 8 oz of dried marijuana and 6 immature plants. That basically sums up the statute but I would dive a little further and check your city and county ordinances to make sure you dont exceed the law in your local. For more information on marijuana laws check out where you can download the Margolin guide. THis guide is the most up to date resource on marijuana laws and its refines the laws down to specific counties. CHECK US OUT!!

  • ruth says:

    Do you need a special permit or license to open up a Marijuna Dispensary?

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