The legalization of recreational cannabis in California has impacted medical marijuana patients to some extent. Whilst those with a medical marijuana card are afforded the same protections under California’s medical marijuana laws (Proposition 215 and SB 420) as they have always been, there is no doubt that the recreational side has impacted the medical side to some extent. Here are some commonly-asked questions regarding medical marijuana in California post-recreational legalization …

How has the law changed with regards to medical marijuana post-legalization?

The law regarding medical marijuana patients in California has not changed dramatically. There do seem to be separate acts for recreational use (Adult Use of Marijuana Act, or AUMA) and medical use (Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, or MCRSA), but whether the two sets of laws and the regulatory bodies governing them will be “joined up” remains to be seen. We see the regulatory bodies becoming more or less one eventually, although we also expect that the laws regarding recreational and medical sides to remain separate. This makes sense, as they are two different areas of the cannabis market.

At the moment, there are many kinks that need to be ironed out, and the regulations made much simpler to understand. However, this is more of a concern for those who wish to operate and make a profit in the cannabis market rather than the patients themselves. Perhaps the biggest impact is longer queues at dispensaries that have licenses to sell to recreational consumers.

How much cannabis can a medical marijuana patient carry?

Technically, a medical marijuana patient can carry as much as they require. However, the California Department of Justice states that a medical marijuana patient can carry up to 8 ounces of dried cannabis flower on their person or within their home. As for non-medical cannabis users, they can carry up to 28.5 grams of cannabis or 8 g of concentrate or a mixture of the two (if you carry 14.25 g of cannabis flower, you can carry a maximum of 4 g of concentrate).

Can a medical marijuana card and mmj recommendation save me money?

Having a valid mmj card and rec can exempt a patient from sales tax. However, not every jurisdiction in California necessarily allows this, or sales taxes are negligible in the first instance, with high non-sales taxes. In general, though, having a valid medical marijuana card and recommendation can save you money via exempting you from sales taxes and perhaps a greater number of deals at dispensaries.

Can I sell cannabis?

No. Selling cannabis is still illegal without a license, and is a misdemeanor that carries a $500 fine. Selling large quantities of cannabis without a permit may still be considered a federal crime, even in California. You may, however, gift a person up to 28.5 g of cannabis free of charge.

Can I grow cannabis?

Medical marijuana patients can grow up to 6 mature plants and 12 immature plants per adult per household, with a maximum of two adults per household (so no more than 12 mature or 24 immature plants per household, regardless of the number of adults). This applies for both medical marijuana patients and recreational users. In the past, medical marijuana patients were allowed to grow cannabis in a space of less than 100 square feet. This will likely change within the next year.

How are caregivers and cooperatives affected?

Many cooperatives and the like will cease to exist, and it is likely that the cooperatives supplying medical patients in the past will not be able to carry on operations as per usual without a license, as they come under the new cultivation and distribution laws. In the past, a caregiver would be allowed to grow up to 500 square feet of cannabis for a maximum of 5 patients (so, 100 square feet per patient). Many caregivers would band together and grow in cooperatives to supply patients and dispensaries, but this will likely become illegal as of next year unless the appropriate licences were applied for in time and the applications successful.

Are all dispensaries now recreational?

No, they are not. There are still many dispensaries that will focus on medical patients exclusively, although they will likely be few-and-far-between.

Is cannabis now legal throughout California?

Not entirely. Many jurisdictions do not want any part of the cannabis industry operating in their area, so dispensaries and the like will not be seen. However, if you are keeping to yourself and using cannabis in your own home, then it is entirely legal to do so as long as you are keeping to within the confines of the law. Where some towns and cities in California will tolerate cannabis use, others will not. In such cases, it is likely best to keep use to private spaces.

This is a complex area of the law, though, and there are likely going to be illegal dispensaries opening up in areas where the regulations are ill-thought-out. Another thing to remember is that carrying or using cannabis onto school grounds or anywhere else children may be present (e.g. youth center, recreational center, school bus) is still illegal.

Can I go to another recreationally legal state carrying cannabis?

No. Carrying, distributing, selling, gifting or pretty much doing anything with cannabis over state lines is a federal crime, even if you are going in between two recreationally and/or medically legal states.

How old do I have to be in order to qualify for medical marijuana?

If you are applying for a medical marijuana recommendation and card yourself, then you must be aged 18 or over. Special considerations can be made for younger patients who are in dire need and have a caregiver who is 21 or over and approves of such treatment. Recreational cannabis users must be aged 21 or over.

Can I use insurance for medical marijuana?

As far as we know, there is no insurance company that covers for the cost of a medical marijuana card or products containing medical cannabis, even if they are intended for medical use.

Can an employer refuse to hire me or fire me if I test positive for marijuana, even if it’s for medical purposes?

Sadly, yes, although this is changing.

What about housing?

If you are renting, you may require permission from the landlord if you intend to use and/or cultivate cannabis in their home.

What about other public services?

Prop. 215 and SB 420 should provide some protection from discrimination when it comes to accessing certain public services (e.g. non-private healthcare, social security payments).

Can I still be arrested for cannabis possession?

Yes, if you are carrying over the legal amounts.

Feel free to ask us more questions or tell us if we’ve missed something out.

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Author, Freelance writer