Sunday, December 14, 2014

Guidelines for Medical Marijuana Use in California

Cannabis remains illegal at a federal level in the United States. Each state has different rules on how medical marijuana is administered. California has approved marijuana for medical use and the laws are different from other states with the same approval.

Possession of marijuana in California was a felony prior to to prop 215 passing.(California Safety Code Section 11357) Proposition 215 allowed use of marijuana for medical reasons in 1996. Possession remained a felony without doctor recommendation. On November 17th, 2014 the passage of Proposition 47 made possession not a felony.(Source) Prop 47 made possession of marijuana without a medical ID card a misdemeanor.(Source)

On November 5th, 1996 California passed ballot Proposition 215 with a 56% voter approval. The law was also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. Medical marijuana can be recommended by a physician for:

“cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief.”

The law also deems it illegal to punish physicians for recommending marijuana for medical use. Medical marijuana ID holders are allowed to cultivate cannabis. Caregivers were also included to cultivate and access medical marijuana.(Source)

Six years later guidelines were made for possession with Senate Bill 420. Qualifying patients and caregivers were allowed to possess up to 8 ounces of dried marijuana and\or six mature or 12 immature cannabis plants. Provisions were also made with the bill to possess a larger amount with recommendation by a physician. Further allowances were given for local municipalities to make ordinances to permit larger quantities of medicinal marijuana.

Senate Bill 420 also gave provisions for collectives and 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.”(Source)

On January 21, 2010 the California Supreme Court declared the possession limits in Senate Bill 420 unconstitutional. The reasoning was that proposition 215 could only be amended by the voters. In May 22, 2008 the Kelly Case in the Second District Court of appeals made this ruling. Personal possession limit went back to “the amount needed for patient's personal use” stated in Prop 215.(Source)

On August 25, 2008 California Attorney General Jerry Brown issued non-binding guidelines for enforcement with medical marijuana. The guidelines put forth in this document states:

  • Cooperatives and collectives should operate as non-profit organizations, verify and maintain qualified patients records, collect sales tax and not sell outside the state.
  • Not be used 1000 feet of a school, recreation center, or youth center
  • Marijuana does not need to be accommodated at the workplace and employers can terminate an employee who tests positive for marijuana use.(Source)

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