Frequently Asked Questions About Marijuana Law in California

Knowledgeable Los Angeles Attorneys Provide Thorough Answers to Your Questions

Laws and regulations related to medical marijuana are constantly changing, and our Los Angeles legal team stays on top of the latest changes and trends so we can best serve our clients. This is a complex area of the law, and you need a lawyer who completely understands your rights and options. We’ve assembled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from our clients. If you have further questions, we invite you to immediately meet with a member of the Shevin Law Group team.

Common Questions about Marijuana Legal Issues

Is marijuana legal for adults in California?

Yes!  On November 9, 2016, following the passage of Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) became law.  Under AUMA, adults 21 and older may legally possess and give away up to 1 ounce of cannabis flower and up to 4 grams of concentrated cannabis.  Adults may also cultivate 6 mature plants on their property which cannot be denied by local authorities.  Beginning in 2018, state licenses will be issued to businesses for cultivation, extraction, distribution, transportation, testing and retail sales.  


Is medical marijuana legal in California?

No! This is the single biggest misconception in the world of medical marijuana law in California. Marijuana is NOT legal. Presently, medical marijuana laws only provide defenses to criminal prosecution. This means that law enforcement can arrest you, confiscate your property, incarcerate you, and give your case to the District Attorney for prosecution if you possess over an ounce of marijuana (see below). At this point you have to bail out of jail and prepare to fight your case. Our skilled criminal attorneys can get between you and a criminal prosecution. If the DA does choose to prosecute you, then it is your burden to prove that you have a legal defense as a qualified patient. If you encounter a problem, the first thing you should do is call an attorney who specializes in these issues.

Did the medical marijuana laws in California change following the passage of MCRSA?

Yes! California's state legislature recently passed the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) which will provide for a state regulated licensing scheme for medical marijuana beginning in 2018.  While the vast majority of the new rules under MCRSA are expected in 2018, the rules effecting cultivation of medical cannabis for personal medical use have already changed.  Under Health & Safety Code 11362.777g, qualified patients may now cultivate up to 100 sq. ft. of plant canopy per premise and may additionally cultivate up to an additional 100 sq. ft for each patient that has designated the grower as their primary caregiver, up to a total of 500 sq. ft. per premise.  Unlike with AUMA, local authorities may prevent medical cultivation through local regulations. Obtaining a County-issued Medical Marijuana Identification Card is the best way for a qualified patient to secure his primary caregiver status in order to cultivate for other patients.


What is a Medical Marijuana Identification Card and how can it help me?

A medical marijuana county-issued identification card (MMIC) identifies qualified patients authorized by the State to use marijuana for medical purposes, pursuant to California’s medical marijuana statutes, the Compassionate Use Act and the Medical Marijuana Program Act. Qualified patients who have obtained a county-issued identification card may not be arrested by police or law enforcement for possessing marijuana, provided that they have less than 8 oz. with them at any given time. This is an added layer of protection over and above a doctor's recommendation, which provides only an affirmative defense from legal prosecution.  Additionally, individuals may obtain a MMIC card to establish their status as a designated primary caregiver thereby allowing the individual to possess, purchase and cultivate on behalf of up to 9 qualified medical marijuana patients.


How do I apply for an MMIC?

Although you do need the input of a physician to receive an MMIC, you must apply for one through your county's Department of Public Health. Your doctor must affirm your need for medical marijuana.


Is my personal information in a state database?

Yes and no. The state does maintain a Medical Marijuana Application System, but it does not keep records of your name, Social Security number or address. The only data kept are your unique ID number and the validity of your card. No employers can access this information.


What amount of processed marijuana can I have in my possession for both Medical and Recreational?

In California, medical marijuana patients may possess any amount of marijuana that is reasonably related to the patient’s medical use, but the burden is on the patient to demonstrate the necessity of the amount possessed. Patient’s with an MMIC are immune from arrest if they possess no more than 8 oz. he Following the passage of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, adults 21 and over may legally possess and give away up to 1 ounce of cannabis flower and up to 4 grams of concentrated cannabis.


Is there a fee for applying for an MMIC?

Most counties in California require an application fee during this process. In Los Angeles County, this fee is $153. Those who qualify for Medi-Cal may receive a discounted application fee rate of $75. Approval for an MMIC may take up to 35 days.


How many marijuana-attributed overdose deaths have there been in history?