The Use of Medical Marijuana in California
At least one dozen states have laws legalizing the use of medical marijuana for medicinal purposes. In 1996, the people of California voted to pass Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. The act was codified as California Health and Safety Code 11362.5 which states that people have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes where that medical use is deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician.
In California, the Medical Marijuana Program is operated at the county level, not the state level. In order to obtain a license, you must first find out if your county has any regulations that you must follow in order to obtain it. Typically, one will have to fill out a form and obtain a written recommendation from a physician. It is evident by doing a simple search on google that a medical marijuana license may be easier to obtain than expected. There are doctors that will provide a recommendation for a license for a mere $99.00.
Since the act was enacted, California has a significant surge in medical marijuana dispensaries. So much so that just like some coffee shops have baristas, medical marijuana dispensaries have "cannabaristas." At these dispensaries, a person with a medical marijuana license may purchase anything from multiple grades of herb to marijuana-infused candy bars
and baked goods.
It is important to know that although the law in California allows the use of medical marijuana, federal law still lists marijuana as an illegal narcotic. Many dispensaries have faced federal criminal charges as a result of federal law. However, with the election of President Obama, dispensary raids that were common during the Bush Administration, have ceased.
In California, the laws on penalties for possession of marijuana will differ depending on the quantity possessed. If you possess no more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, then there is a $100.00 fine. If you possess more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, then you may be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not more than six months or by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500), or by both such fine and imprisonment. The charges filed, either a felony or a misdemeanor will depend on the type of crime committed, the type of drug under possession, and the amount of the drug under possession. If you are a repeat offender, or if you have solicited to minors, you may be subject to enhanced criminal charges and sentencing.