Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 3, 2020

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Medical marijuana statutes themselves are somewhat ambiguous and technical, as such, California’s Attorney General created the California Medicinal Marijuana Guidelines to explain California’s medical marijuana program in easy-to-understand terms. Before the guidelines were published, even law enforcement personnel had difficulty applying California’s marijuana laws. However, if you would like to look into specific marijuana statutes, they can be found on California’s government website.

General Medical Marijuana Laws

As a general rule, you cannot possess medical marijuana just because you have a condition. Your doctor must make a determination that medical marijuana is an appropriate treatment, just like he or she would for any other treatment program. From there, you and your doctor must apply and receive a Medical Marijuana Identification Card. Once a card is issued, you will be entered into a web-based registry system.

Your Medical Marijuana Identification Card will prevent the police from arresting you if you are found in possession of marijuana. After your card has been issued, then you can possess marijuana for medical purposes. You are not authorized to “share” your medical marijuana with others. This is just a general overview of California’s state medical marijuana laws.

Before you decide to accept your doctor’s recommendation, you should review other laws as well. First, the state statute authorizes counties to administer the medical marijuana programs. Each county may set up additional guidelines for applying for a Medical Marijuana Card. A drug attorney in your county can best advise you of any specific provisions in the county where you reside.

Federal Medical Marijuana Laws

The last set of laws you may want to review are federal laws. Despite an overwhelming number of California citizens voting to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, the federal government has not jumped on board. California medical marijuana laws still conflict with federal prohibitions of marijuana possession.

Even though a local law enforcement agency is not likely to arrest or prosecute you because you have a Medical Marijuana Identification Card, the feds may still choose to arrest you for violations of federal statutes. Follow this link to review the federal statutes regarding marijuana possession.

Getting Help

Trying to figure out how local, state, and federal medical marijuana laws overlap can be difficult. If you still have questions about whether to possess marijuana for medical purposes as recommended by your doctor, consult with an attorney for advice more specific to your county and your medical condition. Follow this link for more information about California Marijuana Laws and California Medical Marijuana Laws.