The number of states that allow marijuana for medical purposes is growing.



Marijuana, once a major target of the war on drugs, has seen greater acceptance across California and the rest of the country over the past decade, with an increasing number of states legalizing or decriminalizing possession of the drug. The legal implications and trends related to marijuana law have been interesting to watch, and we can expect more significant changes in the near future. At Shevin Law Group, our Los Angeles attorneys have made a name for themselves as true authorities on this area of the law, serving individuals and entrepreneurs throughout the region since 1993.




In 1996, California passed Proposition 215, otherwise known as the Compassionate Use Act, the first law regulating the medical uses of marijuana. The act granted citizens the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes, namely to treat symptoms associated with cancer, HIV/AIDS, anorexia, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain and any condition where medical marijuana provides relief.


In 2003, California's state legislature passed SB 420, also known as the Medical Marijuana Program Act, after statewide reports showed that police officers were having a difficult time enforcing some of the provisions of the Compassionate Use Act.  Because law enforcement officers were sometimes unable to determine if a person was a legal medical marijuana user, some patients and caregivers were being unnecessarily arrested. SB 420 accomplished several things:


  • Application and identification rules. The state’s Department of Health Services created a voluntary medical marijuana program to issue prompt identification and assign primary caregivers to legal users to avoid unnecessary arrest and prosecution. Although the Compassionate Use Act offered protection from undue prosecution, SB 420’s voluntary program created an extra layer.

  • Verification protocols and record keeping. The Department of Health Services also developed protocols for confirming the accuracy of application information and protecting confidentiality.

  • Extended caregiver and state rights. SB 420 extended the power of medical marijuana recommendation and approval to osteopaths, and also allowed caregivers to have multiple patients in different counties.

  • Creating laws that protect collectives and cooperatives where qualified patients associate together to cultivate and obtain medical cannabis through retail dispensary locations.


As of 2018, California has begun implementation of a statewide regulatory scheme, providing state licensing for every aspect of the cannabis industry, both medical and adult use.  This process will take time and is sure to result in unanticipated problems, primarily stemming from those folks who are unable to transition into a legal, regulated market.  More work is needed to protect the rights of the many people whose backs the legal industry was built upon.  Like everything, this is a process but when you consider that California is the 5th largest economy on earth, the valuable information and data that will be generated in California is sure to further breakdown the stigmas and unsupported negative stereotypes associated with cannabis.  More importantly, the many benefits of this incredible plant will become accessible to those who need it.

Marijuana legal trends in California

and throughout the country



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