California Medical Marijuana Patient Guide

Posted over 5 years ago. 4 helpful votes



Make Sure You have a Proper Recommendation from a Physician

Medical marijuana is legal in the state of California. Generally speaking, this means a patient may be in possession of certain amounts necessary for personal use and for assisting others in accessing their medicinal marijuana as well. All patients must have a written recommendation from a physician and must be suffering from a diagnosable medical condition which warrants the use of marijuana. All traditional privileges apply between the physician and patient. Moreover, all records relating to the recommendation are also subject to federal restrictions on access and privacy (HIPPA). See generally, California Health & Safety Code A?A? 11362.5, et seq. Medical conditions such as AIDS, anorexia, arthritis, glaucoma, seizures, and chronic severe nausea are typical grounds for the recommendation of medical marijuana as a therapeutic treatment.


How Much or What Forms of Marijuana Can I Possess?

You and your doctor should determine appropriate usage of any product. If you are a terminally ill patient, you have certain specific rights under statutory guidelines and local policy. See, California Probate Code A?A? 4650-4653; California Business & Professions Code A? 2241.5. However, California law generally allows up to 8 ounces per patient of processed product. Alternatively, one may also have 12 immature plants or 6 mature plants in their possession. (August 2008 CA Attorney General Guidelines). You must also check with your local law enforcement policies about the possession, transportation, and distribution of medical marijuana before going about in public with the product. Also, under current law, patients may have edible forms of marijuana as well. Your right to appropriate medical treatment is a powerful right that cannot be easily violated by the government. Conservatorship of Drabick (1988) 200 Cal.App. 185, 208, cert.denied 488 U.S. 958.


Make Sure to have an Attorney Available

Medical marijuana law is one of the most gray areas of law in the State of California at this time. While it is completely legal to possess and use medical marijuana, with a proper physician recommendation, there are still many law enforcement officers who do not understand the law. Presently, the Riverside County Sheriff's Office is working on a uniform enforcement policy for its 3000+ street officers. It does have an allegedly "draft" policy 06-053, which is consistent with Attorney General guidelines. However, at present, the many do not know the law, especially when it comes to collectives and assistants. SB420 and Prop 215 were not incredibly instructive as to how basic enforcement issues ought to be handled. As such, it is critical that you have a competent attorney who understands the criminal, constitutional, and privacy rights at issue in these cases. You may find yourself arrested for what appears to be completely legal.


Make Sure to Know the Law Yourself

There are a variety of sources you can look at for guidance on the laws governing this aspect of your medical treatment. Not only is important that you lawyer know this information, you may need it in order to have a meaningful conversation with family, law enforcement, or others who may not understand the legal issues. A combined knowledge of the law and a friendly attitude toward an officer may assist greatly in avoiding a misunderstanding that could lead to a false arrest. See the Links provided for you below and take a careful look at the laws and issues now in play. For legal help, contact us at and ask for Rich Ackerman, our lead Tenth Amendment litigator.


What Kind of Paperwork Should I have with Me?

At all times, you should possess and be able to produce a California or local county medical marijuana patient identification card. These can normally be acquired through the local county health agency. Also, you should always have several original-signed physician recommendations. You should keep one and home, one in your car, and the person with your healthcare powers of attorney should also have this medical information. Also, if your doctor has made specific recommendations about amounts you should use, it is critical that your paperwork reflect the same.

Additional Resources

Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project (760) 799-2055

Inland Valley Attorneys

US Department of Justice Site on MMJ

Americans for Safe Access

UC Berkely Article on the Issues

General Information Site

Medical Marijuana News & Info

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