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State laws

California Cannabis Laws

Legal status

  • Fully legal

Possession limits

  • Medical patients

    No defined limitSome suggest 8 oz

  • Recreational users

    1 ozOr 8 grams concentrate

State taxes

  • Medical patients

    15 - 19.75%Medical users pay 15% excise and possibly some local taxes

  • Recreational users

    27.5 - 40.75%Medical users with MMICs can save up to 25% on taxes (state sales tax & local cannabis business tax)


  • Medical patients

    6 PlantsSome counties allow more plants

  • Recreational users

    6 plants

  • Cultivation is legal
Learn more

Application process

To apply for a medical cannabis card in the state of California

Once you have registered with Leafwell and been approved by one of our medical marijuana doctors online, you can apply to the state medical marijuana program (optional, but recommended for tax and reciprocity benefits). Receive your MMJ card and start shopping for your medical cannabis from a licensed dispensary.

You’ll receive your medical card and original certificate with the seal within 5 to 7 days.

Get your card

Table of contents

  1. Marijuana Laws in California
  2. What to Know About About Medical Cannabis in California
  3. Can You Grow Cannabis In California?
  4. The Bottom Line

Cannabis is legal in California for both recreational and medical use.

Recreational or adult-use cannabis is legal for adults 21 or older, whereas medical cannabis is legal for adults aged 18 or older with a recommendation from a doctor. Minor patients can also receive a medical card in California under specific circumstances.

Medical patients can have up to 8 ounces of cannabis at once, while recreational users are limited to 1 ounce (or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis).

Marijuana Laws in California

Marijuana laws differ from state to state, with California’s cannabis laws being some of the most user-friendly in the country. However, it should be noted that while cannabis use is legal, state law prohibits the use of marijuana in public places, regardless of whether you are a recreational or medical user. Additionally, local jurisdictions may have more strict cannabis laws in place. This is true for locations like Sonoma County, so it is important to check your local laws in addition to your state’s laws.

Medical Cannabis Laws

California has been at the forefront of updating outdated cannabis laws for decades. In fact, California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana with the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. The state’s current medical cannabis program allows patients with one or more qualifying medical conditions to receive certification for a Medical Marijuana Identification Card. Various forms of cannabis can be purchased from licensed retailers for medical use, including cannabis flower, edibles, tinctures, capsules, oils, and more.

Medical patients can also grow their own cannabis plants, buy products from licensed dispensaries, or both. And they can benefit from paying lower taxes than recreational users at dispensaries.

Recreational Marijuana Laws

Recreational cannabis was legalized in 2016 under Proposition 64. The bill allows adults 21 and older to purchase up to an ounce of cannabis products from licensed dispensaries for personal use. Recreational users can grow up to six cannabis plants, the same amount as medical patients.

Delta-8 and other synthetic or semi-synthetic cannabinoids are also legal for individuals over 21 in California.

What to Know About About Medical Cannabis in California

While California is a rather cannabis-friendly state, there are certain medical marijuana laws people need to keep in mind when residing in (or traveling to) the Golden State.

Only Certain Conditions Are Allowed

Although recreational cannabis use is legal for all adults in California at or over 21 years of age, the medical program is slightly more rigid.

Currently, California law states that those with the following conditions can receive a med card:

Additionally, physicians may recommend cannabis to a patient with a condition or symptoms that limit their ability to conduct major life activities or for symptoms that can cause serious harm to a patient’s physical or mental health and safety.

Telemedicine Is Allowed

People seeking medical marijuana certification in California can do so in person or through telehealth providers like Leafwell.

California Does Not Accept Out-of-State Medical Cards

California does not have medical marijuana reciprocity. Thankfully, since the state does allow for adult-use cannabis sales, you do not need your med card from another state to buy cannabis in California, as long as you are over 21.

Many other states and territories, however, have medical marijuana reciprocity. They include:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas *
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii *
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Michigan (at the dispensary’s discretion)
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey *
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma *
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island
  • U.S. Virgin Islands *
  • Utah * (up to two 21-day periods in a calendar year)
  • Washington, D.C.

*Visitors must complete a visiting patient application with the state program.

States that have recreational cannabis for adults 21 and older but do not accept out-of-state cards include:

  • Alaska
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota (currently only tribal dispensaries)
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Vermont
  • Washington

The State Offers Some Employment Protections for Cannabis Use

While having a medical marijuana card is not grounds for termination by itself, employers do have a right to maintain a drug-free workplace. Still, California marijuana users will receive additional employment protections starting in 2024. Under the new law, employers cannot discriminate against employees for off-duty cannabis use. It has not been implemented yet, but medical and recreational cannabis users can look forward to receiving a measure of protection starting in 2024.

Can You Grow Cannabis In California?

Yes, it is legal to grow cannabis in California. Both medical and recreational cannabis users can grow up to six cannabis plants in a private residence.

The Bottom Line

Marijuana is legal for medical and recreational use in California. Medical marijuana patients receive a greater possession limit than recreational users and enjoy fewer taxes at dispensaries. While employment protections could be greater, Californians won’t face penalties for having a med card and will soon be protected from losing their job over off-duty cannabis use. Finally, as stated, local governments may have more strict laws in place. So, it’s important to stay up to date on the laws in your specific county.

If you live in California and have one or more qualifying conditions, you should speak to a Leafwell doctor about getting your med card today.