Is Marijuana Legal in California?

Medical marijuana is legal with a doctor's approval in California. Recreational marijuana is legal for adults 21 and older.

The increasing legalization of medical marijuana on the state level has led to some states extending legalization for recreational use as well. Marijuana has many health benefits, including its healing properties and non-addictive, effective pain relief. It is used to alleviate symptoms for chronic diseases, and can change the lives of people living with ailments ranging from Parkinson's, epilepsy to depression.

California has allowed medical use of cannabis since 1996. Recreational use was approved in 2016, with the first recreational dispensaries opening in 2018. Other states that have legal recreational cannabis include Washington, Oregon, Nevada and Colorado.

People use both the THC and CBD properties for relief, and different marijuana strains provide different experiences. These range from completely non-psychoactive use of CBD strains, to indica and sativa strains with THC content. CBD is excellent for medicinal purposes, particularly since it does produce a high of any sort. At the same time, it is anti-inflammatory, protects neurons, antipsychotic and analgesic.

Decriminalization of Marijuana
The decriminalization of marijuana in California in 1975 through Senate Bill 95 meant possession of less than one ounce would incur a $100 fine. So although medical and recreational marijuana was illegal, both on the state and national level, the consequences were fairly minor for low-key cannabis users.

Medical marijuana was approved in California in 1996 through Proposition 215, which aimed to provide medical cannabis to qualified patients for pain or illnesses. Six years later, SB 420, the Medical Marijuana Protection Act, was signed into law. It provided the framework for the marijuana ID system.

To apply for a medical card, one must meet with a medical marijuana doctor. These doctors can prescribe marijuana for many ailments, ranging from minor to severe, so long that marijuana provides relief. These doctors have offices throughout the state, but there are also doctors available online.

Recreational Marijuana
Recreational marijuana was first on the ballot as Proposition 19 in 2010. At that time 53.5 percent of voters voted against the Cannabis Act. The second attempt to legalize recreational marijuana took place in November 2016. This time, Proposition 64, The Adult Use of Marijuana Act, passed with 57.13 percent of the vote. Proposition 64 legalizes personal use of marijuana, as well as the sale and taxation of recreational marijuana.

The legalization extends to adults' choice to grow up to six of their own plants, and adults can possess up to an ounce. Recreational dispensaries opened on January 2018, and the State of California expects to gather hundreds of millions in taxes per year from recreational sales.

Proposition 64 restricts the consumption of marijuana in public spaces, possession in school zones and open containers in cars. Sale, cultivation and production is limited to licensed individuals and groups. Possession or consumption on federal lands remains illegal.

Government Oversight
The Bureau of Cannabis Control oversees the marijuana industry in both the medical and recreational sectors. Its responsibilities range from licensing to developing and enforcing marijuana regulations.