Medical Marijuana Program

Medical Marijuana Program Medical Marijuana Program Act was passed in 2003 by the California Legislature. Its intent was to clarify and define the application of Proposition 215 known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. The program established a statewide voluntary identification card program. It also was designed to help those in need to have access to marijuana through collective and cooperative cultivation projects.

The Act was established to provide identification cards to qualified patients, it was voluntary and did not make it a requirement to obtain a card in order to be covered by the Compassionate Use Act.1  The Medical Marijuana Program Act specifically granted cities and other local governmental entities the power to adopt laws and regulations consistent with the Program.2

Identification Cards.

In order to obtain an identification card a fee is required along with the submission of a form supplied by the Department of Health Services. The form includes a person’s name and proof of county of residence;3  a requirement that the person’s physician include verification in a person’s medical records of the diagnosis of the condition treated and the authorization to use marijuana;4  the name, address, phone number, medical license number of the person’s physician;5  the primary caregiver’s name and duties;6  a government photo ID of the person, and the primary caregiver, if the person is under 18 a certified copy of a birth certificate is sufficient ID;7  if the person is not competent then an photo ID of their legal representative.8

Those who have a valid identification card, either a person or their primary caregiver, will not be subject to arrest for possession, transportation, deliver, processes, administer or cultivation of medical marijuana in amounts listed in the act unless there is a reason to believe the information contained in the identification card is false, or there is some other violation under the Act.9  The Act specially prohibits any person or their primary caregiver covered by the act to cultivate, sell, or distribute marijuana for profit.10

Collectives and Cooperatives.

The act protects from prosecution those who are qualified patients, or their primary caregivers, or others with valid identification cards who associate within the State of California in order to collectively or cooperatively cultivate or possess marijuana for medical purposes.11

Location Near School Is Prohibited.

The Act prohibits establishing a collective or cooperative within 600 feet of a school,12  however local ordinances requiring the distance to exceed 600 feet are permissible under the Act.13

Statutory Limits on Quantity.

When passed the Act place restrictions on the amount of marijuana a qualified patient or the primary caregiver could possess or cultivate. Those limits were eight ounces of dried marijuana per each patient. The limited on cultivation was 6 mature or 12 immature plants.14  Where a person or a primary caregiver has a patient whose doctor feels that those amount are insufficient to meet the need of their patient then the amount possessed or cultivated may be an amount consistent with those needs.15

However these limits were found unconstitutional by the California Supreme Court,16  the decision applied only to prohibiting an affirmative defense to a criminal prosecution under the Compassionate Use Law where the amount involved exceeded the limits established in the statute. In other words you could prevent a criminal conviction for exceeding the limits, but it did not prevent the limits from being enforced civilly. On the plus side it aloud the limits to be exceeded by local ordinances.





1 Sections 11362.5, 11362.71(a)(1), (f) of the California Health and Safety Code
2 Section 11362.83 of the California Health and Safety Code
3 Section 11362.715(a)(1) of the California Health and Safety Code
4 Sections 11362.715(a)(2), 11362.7(h) of the California Health and Safety Code
5 Section 11362.715(a)(3) of the California Health and Safety Code
6 Section 11362.715(a)(4) of the California Health and Safety Code
7 Section 11362.715(a)(5) of the California Health and Safety Code
8 Section 11362.715(b) of the California Health and Safety Code
9 Sections 11362.7, 11362.71(e), 11362.765(a), (b)(1), 11362.765 of the California Health and Safety Code
10 Sections 11362.765, 11362.765(a) of the California Health and Safety Code
11 Section 11362.775 of the California Health and Safety Code
12 Section 11362.768(b) of the California Health and Safety Code
13 Los Angeles v. Hill (2011) 192 C.A.4th 861
14 Section 11362.77(a) of the California Health and Safety Code
15 Section 11362.77(b) of the California Health and Safety Code
16 People v. Kelly (2010) 47 C.4th 1008