Medical Marijuana Laws by State

Medical marijuana laws by state vary drastically in their scope and implementation, including the regulation of dispensaries and the types of illnesses treated. Please write to your Senators and let them know how you feel.


Recreational and medical use


Medical use only


CBD only state


Currently still an illegal state


California Marijuana Laws

Legalization: This state has legalized marijuana for recreational and medical use.
Law: Proposition 215 – Passed in 1996 (Medical)
Proposition 64 – California Marijuana Legalization Initiative (21 and over) – Passed November 8, 2016

Possession: Possess, transport, obtain or give away to other adults 21 or older no more than one ounce of marijuana or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis.

Cultivate up to six plants per residence and possess the marijuana produced by these plants.

Can you use other Legal State Cards: No

How The Law Reads:

Proposition 64 – legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults aged 21 years or older. Smoking was permitted in a private home or at a business licensed for on-site marijuana consumption. Smoking remains illegal while driving a vehicle, anywhere smoking tobacco is, and in all public places. Up to 28.5 grams of marijuana and 8 grams of concentrated marijuana are legal to possess. However, possession on the grounds of a school, day care center, or youth center while children are present remains illegal. An individual is permitted to grow up to six plants within a private home, as long as the area is locked and not visible from a public place.

Proposition 215 – Approved Nov. 5, 1996 by 56% of voters

Effective: Nov. 6, 1996

Removes 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.

Who will regulate marijuana?

The Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation was renamed the Bureau of Marijuana Control. It is responsible for regulating and licensing marijuana businesses.[8]

With Proposition 64’s approval, individuals serving criminal sentences for activities made legal under the measure are eligible for resentencing. Counties and municipalities have been empowered to restrict where marijuana businesses could be located. Local governments can also completely ban the sale of marijuana from their jurisdictions.

How will marijuana be taxed?

Proposition 64 created two new excise taxes on marijuana. One is be a cultivation tax of $9.25 per ounce for flowers and $2.75 per ounce for leaves, with exceptions for certain medical marijuana sales and cultivation. The second is a 15 percent tax on the retail price of marijuana. Taxes will be adjusted for inflation starting in 2020.

Local governments have been authorized to levy taxes on marijuana as well.

What will penalties be?

Individuals under age 18 convicted of marijuana use or possession are required to attend drug education or a counseling program and complete community service. Selling marijuana without a license is punishable by up to six months in a county jail, a fine up to $500, or both.[8]

With Proposition 64’s approval, individuals serving criminal sentences for activities made legal under the measure are eligible for resentencing.

Approved Conditions: 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.

AmendedSenate Bill 420
Effective: Jan. 1, 2004

Imposes statewide guidelines outlining how much medicinal marijuana patients may grow and possess.

Possession/Cultivation: Qualified patients and their primary caregivers may possess no more than eight ounces of dried marijuana and/or six mature (or 12 immature) marijuana plants. However, S.B. 420 allows patients to possess larger amounts of marijuana when recommended by a physician. The legislation also allows counties and municipalities to approve and/or maintain local ordinances permitting patients to possess larger quantities of medicinal pot than allowed under the new state guidelines.

S.B. 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.”

[Editor’s Note: On Jan. 21, 2010, the California Supreme Court affirmed (S164830) the May 22, 2008 Second District Court of Appeals ruling in the Kelly Case that the possession limits set by SB 420 violate the California constitution because the voter-approved Prop. 215 can only be amended by the voters.

According to a Jan. 21, 2010 article titled “California Supreme Court Further Clarifies Medical Marijuana Laws,” by Aaron Smith, California Policy Director at the Marijuana Policy Project, the impact of the ruling is that people growing more than 6 mature or 12 immature plants are still subject to arrest and prosecution, but they will be allowed to use a medical necessity defense in court.]

Attorney General’s Guidelines:
On Aug. 25, 2008, California Attorney General Jerry Brown issued guidelines for law enforcement and medical marijuana patients to clarify the state’s laws. Read more about the guidelines here.

California Department of Public Health
Public Health Policy and Research Branch
Attention: Medical Marijuana Program Unit
MS 5202
P.O. Box 997377
Sacramento, CA 95899-7377
Phone: 916-552-8600
Fax: 916-440-5591

CA Medical Marijuana Program