Laws & Regulations
On November 8, 2016, California voters passed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, more widely known as Proposition 64. Prop 64 legalized the sale and consumption of recreational marijuana for adults 21 years or older, and established certain sales and cultivation taxes. The Medicinal and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) went into effect on January 1, 2018. Prior to the approval of Prop 64, the possession or use of marijuana for recreational purposes was illegal in California.
In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, or the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. Prop 215 allowed patient and defined caregiver to possess and cultivate marijuana for medical use. Prop 215 was the first medical marijuana ballot initiative to pass at the state level.
MAUCRSA establishes all the regulatory laws and procedures for commercial medical and adult-use cannabis in California. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) holds jurisdictional authority over the medical cannabis program, while the The California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) is responsible for all adult-use consumer affairs and business licenses.
Where is it Safe to Purchase?
Adults 21 and older may purchase marijuana from any state-licensed dispensary, regardless of patient status. If patients are unable to make the transaction themselves, they may also designate a caregiver to purchase and deliver the medical marijuana on their behalf. There are delivery services available throughout the state, though it depends on the local legislation whether delivery services are legally allowed.
All purchases will be subject to a 15% cannabis excise tax, a 8-10% city tax, and a 7.25-11% sales and use tax, depending on location.
Under Proposition 64, however, medical marijuana patients who present a valid Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program (MMICP) card do not have to pay the sales and use tax when making retail purchases of medical cannabis, medical cannabis concentrate, edible medical cannabis products or topical cannabis.
Where is it Safe to Consume?
Cannabis consumption must take place in a private space.
On-site consumption is permitted inside businesses or spaces which acquired a commercial cannabis consumption license. Furthermore, smoking or vaping in a designated non-smoking area is an infraction.
Driving or riding a bicycle under the influence of cannabis is illegal and consumption in a vehicle is not allowed, neither while driving nor while riding as passengers.
Adults ages 21 or older can buy and possess up to one ounce (1 oz.), or 28.35 grams, of recreational cannabis, and up to eight grams of concentrated cannabis. Adults may also participate in California’s home cultivation program. Adults without a valid qualifying physician’s recommendation are allowed to grow a maximum of 6 plants, regardless of maturity level.
Under MAUCRSA, medical cannabis patients and their caregivers can possess and transport up to eight ounces (8 oz.), or 226.8 grams, of dried cannabis or concentrates and up to six mature plants or 12 immature plants. Adult users may possess and transport no more than one ounce (1 oz), or 28.5 grams, of dried cannabis and eight grams (8 g) of cannabis concentrates. Legal consumers can carry cannabis in their vehicles, but it must be in a sealed container or in the trunk.
Adults may transfer or gift up to one ounce (1 oz), or 28.5 grams, of dried cannabis and eight grams (8 g) of cannabis concentrates to another adult 21 years of age or older.
Medical Marijuana Registry
The California Department of Public Health created the Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program (MMICP) to establish a state-authorized ID card, along with a registry to verify qualified patients and their primary caregivers. Patients must apply for a card for themselves and their designated primary caregivers. Generally, medical cards may be valid up to one year. Prior to receipt of their registry identification cards, patients are required to pay the fee required by their county’s program.
- Cachexia (wasting syndrome)
- Chronic pain
- Chronic migraine
- Persistent muscle spasms
- Multiple sclerosis)
- Severe nausea
- Any other chronic or persistent medical condition that limits the ability of the patient to conduct one or more major life activities
- Provide proof of residency in the county
- Provide valid copy of a government issued identification card
- Obtain written certification from a physician confirming the presence of a serious medical condition, and that medical cannabis is an appropriate treatment
- Designate a caregiver, if necessary
- Submit completed application for both patient and designated caregiver, if applicable
- Receive Medical Marijuana Identification Card
Patients in the registry who require assistance obtaining or using medical cannabis may designate a primary caregiver. A primary caregiver must be at least age 18, and may provide care for a number of patients so long as they reside within the same county. A primary caregiver cannot apply for a Medical Marijuana Identification Card. The patient must apply for the designated caregiver. Caregiver registration is valid for the same duration as the patient’s Medical Marijuana Identification Card. The required fee varies by county.
A primary caregiver is a person who consistently assumes the responsibility for the housing, health or safety of the patient. This may be an individual or the owner, operator or employee of an appropriately licensed clinic, facility, hospice, or home health agency.
The BCC requires that all cannabis harvested for commercial medical and adult use, as well as all cannabis products, must be tested to meet certain quality and safety control standards.
The BCC requires testing such as:
- Residual solvents
- Moisture/water content
- Foreign material
This page was last updated on May 17, 2018.