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California Cannabis Laws

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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%Med users can save up to 25% on taxes


  • 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.

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Table of contents

  1. Is cannabis legal in California?
  2. What are the medical marijuana laws in California?
  3. What medical conditions qualify for a Medical Marijuana Card in California?
  4. How do I get certified for medical cannabis in California?
  5. Is telemedicine allowed for medical cannabis consultations in California?
  6. How much cannabis can I possess in California with an MMJ Card?
  7. Is it legal to grow cannabis in California?
  8. Does California accept out-of-state cards?
  9. Will my California card be accepted in other states?
  10. Are there employment laws protecting medical cannabis card holders in California?
  11. What are the medical cannabis product testing requirements in California?
  12. Where is it safe to purchase cannabis in California?
  13. Where is it safe to consume marijuana in California?

Yes, cannabis is legal for adult use and as part of California’s medical cannabis program.

What are the medical marijuana laws in California?

Medical Marijuana (Cannabis) Laws in California


California became the first state to vote on a ballot which argued for the legalization of cannabis. Proposition 19 would have legalized use, possession and cultivation of cannabis (but not commercial sales). It lost 33 percent to 67 percent but set California up as a state which would lead the way.


Medical marijuana law comes into effect – Proposition 215 refers to the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 which is still in effect today. This passage exempts patients and defined caregivers who possess or cultivate cannabis for medical treatment and who have a physician’s recommendation from punishment under state law. California was the first state to legalize medical cannabis.


Senate Bill 420 clarified much of the language in the initial law and established the current identification-card system for medical cannabis patients.


Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, legalized the recreational use of cannabis. It passed with 57 percent of the vote. Recreational cannabis enthusiasts can possess up to one ounce of cannabis flower or 8 grams of concentrate (e.g. hashish, wax, shatter).


Amendments were passed via Senate Bill 34 which allows licensed retailers and dispensaries to provide medical cannabis for free to qualified patients who are for certain reasons unable to access product.


Governor Newsom issued an executive order which extended existing MMICs beyond the original expiration date due to Covid-19 and a lack of access to some facilities.

Recreational Marijuana (Adult Use Cannabis) Laws in California


California becomes the first state to vote on a ballot measure seeking to legalize cannabis. Proposition 19 – the California Marijuana Initiative – sought to legalize the use, possession, and cultivation of cannabis, but did not allow for commercial sales.


Proposition 64 – November 9, 2016: Proposition 64 legalized the possession, cultivation, and use of marijuana for personal use for those aged 21 or over. The measure created two new taxes, one levied on cultivation and the other on retail price. Up to 28.5 grams of marijuana and 8 grams of concentrated marijuana are legal to possess under this measure. 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.

January 1, 2018

Proposition 64 allowed for the sale and taxation of recreational marijuana.

What medical conditions qualify for a Medical Marijuana Card in California?

The California law lists the following medical conditions as qualifiers for a medical cannabis card:

  • Anorexia
  • Arthritis
  • Cachexia (Wasting Syndrome)
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Glaucoma
  • Migraine
  • Persistent muscle spasms (e.g., spasms associated with multiple sclerosis)
  • Seizures (e.g., epileptic seizures)
  • Severe nausea
  • Any other chronic or persistent medical symptom that either substantially limits a person’s ability to conduct one or more of major life activities as defined in the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, or if not alleviated, may cause serious harm to the person’s safety, physical, or mental health.

How do I get certified for medical cannabis in California?

You can get certified for medical cannabis in California online with Leafwell. Simply create an account today and provide some basic information to our HIPAA secure platform.

We’ll then connect you to a California physician who will perform a virtual consultation. If you’re approved, you’ll receive your recommendation letter via email. In California, you’ll also receive a physial copy in the mail with a gold seal. You can use either the digital copy or the paper letter to purchase medical cannabis.

There is no requirement to register with the state in California. To register with the California Depratment of Cannabis Control and get an official medical marijuana ID card, you can get started on you CA medical marijuana application form here.

You must be aged 18 or over in order to qualify for a medical marijuana identification card (MMIC) in California. In California, you can get a Medical Marijuana Card for a minor (those aged under 18) with parental/guardian consent.

You qualify as a primary caregiver under California marijuana law if:

  • You have been designated for that purpose by a legal medical marijuana user
  • You are consistently responsible for that person’s housing, health, and/or safety
  • The care you provide is independent of assistance you give the person in taking medical marijuana
  • You began taking care of the person at or before the time you assumed responsibility for assisting with medical marijuana
  • You not have been convicted of any felony within the past 10 years
  • Primary caregivers are covered under the California Compassionate Use Act (“CUA”).

Medical cannabis that is not in smoking or vaping form is to be administered to students by parents on campus if their school board has approved a policy providing the access. Parents must obtain a doctor’s recommendation to administer the cannabis products on campus.

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Is telemedicine allowed for medical cannabis consultations in California?

Yes, you can be certified online by a physician for both initial and renewal patients.

How much cannabis can I possess in California with an MMJ Card?

Medical patients – No defined limit, although some suggest 8 oz.

Recreational users – 1 oz., or 8 grams concentrate – if carrying 0.5 oz. of cannabis, the maximum concentrate possession limit is 4 grams.

Medical marijuana cardholders can grow six cannabis plants at home if they’re at least 21. Some counties have their own regulations. For example, Sonoma County allows medical cardholders to grow as many plants in a dedicated space of up to 100 square feet grow.

Recreational users can grow up to six plants.

Does California accept out-of-state cards?

California does not recognize other states’ medical marijuana cards and thus does not have reciprocity. However, out-of-state patients may apply for the CA medical marijuana program.

Will my California card be accepted in other states?

Yes, a California medical marijuana card is valid in some other states. Please note that a physician-issued medical cannabis card is not eligible for reciprocity. You will need a valid, in-date, state-issued medical marijuana identity card (MMIC) to benefit from reciprocity.

The following states accept or recognize out-of-state medical marijuana cards:

  • Arizona
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • New Jersey
  • Oklahoma
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island
  • US Virgin Islands
  • Utah
  • Washington, D.C.

However, this does not always mean you can purchase cannabis at a medical marijuana dispensary (non-medical adult use is fine) – just that you are protected by the state’s medical marijuana laws to some extent. It is wise to call the dispensary ahead if you are a medical cannabis patient from another state and you intend on purchasing medical marijuana.

The qualifying condition usually has to match between states, so if your qualifying condition is accepted in one state and not your visiting state, your recommendation is not necessarily valid. You are also beholden to the visiting state’s medical marijuana laws, not the state that issued your card.

The following states accept out-of-state applications, allowing a visiting patient application to use medical cannabis for the duration of their stay:

  • Arkansas
  • Hawaii
  • West Virginia (cancer patients only)

Are there employment laws protecting medical cannabis card holders in California?

Simply holding a medical marijuana card in California will not automatically get a worker fired from their job. Employers are allowed to terminate employees who test positive for marijuana use, however, even if it is medical marijuana. Prop. 64 states that employers may maintain a drug-free workplace.

What are the medical cannabis product testing requirements in California?

The state of California requires all cannabis to be tested for cannabinoids, terpene content, mycotoxins and heavy metals in addition to moisture content, residual solvents, pesticides and microbial impurities. Many labs also test for vitamin E acetate.

Where is it safe to purchase cannabis in California?

In all states with a medical marijuana program, the only way to purchase medicinal cannabis products is via a legally-licensed dispensary or pharmacy, or another legally designated space to purchase cannabis. Only those with a legal license to sell cannabis can actually do so. In California, the best place to buy cannabis from is a licensed dispensary.

Where is it safe to consume marijuana in California?

All states with a medical marijuana program have some restrictions on where a person can legally use cannabis. Near schools, nurseries, parks or other places where children are expected to be, using cannabis is illegal. Use of cannabis on or in federal land or buildings, hospitals or any other such healthcare space is also illegal. Private members club and landowners may also prohibit cannabis use on their property or restrict it at their discretion.

The safest place to use medical cannabis is in the safety of your own home. It is wise to use common sense and generally keep consumption out of public view, and utilize discreet consumption methods wherever possible.