The Do’s & Don’ts of Medical Marijuana in California

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Many people will view the history of marijuana use in California as one of the uplifting stories regarding this natural product’s use in the US. After all, in 1996 it was the first state to give people the right to use it for medicinal purposes. The state paved the way for many other marijuana law changes in America, resulting in it now also being an accepted product for recreational use in certain areas.

However, it doesn’t mean you should just do as you please in this trailblazing state. To still act within relevant laws, keep abreast of the latest rules and what exactly California law deems as ‘legal’. We created an easy do’s and don’ts checklist about medical marijuana in California to help you.

What are California’s Medical Marijuana Laws?

Since 1996 it has been legal to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. This is according to state laws, although the country’s federal laws still list it as a Schedule 1, illegal substance. But as long as you abide by the state laws while in California, there’s little chance of running into trouble.

Under state law, you can possess marijuana or even cultivate it yourself, as long as the plants are inside a private residence and not out in the open or in public. When buying marijuana you do need to acquire it from a licensed outlet. No one in California may sell marijuana without a state issued license.

Patients can now also have peace of mind that medicinal marijuana can’t be a legal reason for being dismissed from your job. As long as you don’t use it while at work, employers can’t penalize medical marijuana users.

Do’s of Buying Medical Marijuana in California

For medicinal marijuana best practices, keep the following in mind.

Get a Medical Marijuana Card

Since there are different rules that apply to people who use marijuana recreationally, patients who use marijuana need proof that they legally use it medicinally. This is why you need to obtain a medical marijuana card. Either the patient or the responsible caregiver can apply for a card by contacting your local county’s health department.

Minor application fees will apply.

Check if You are Eligible by a Doctor

There are certain conditions that make you eligible to use marijuana medicinally. You’ll need proof from your doctor that you suffer from one of the following:

–        Anorexia

–        AIDS or HIV

–        Arthritis

–        Seizures or muscle spasms that are persistent

–        Chronic pain or migraines

–        Cachexia

–        Cancer

–        Glaucoma

–        Severe nausea

Do discuss with your doctor if you suspect you can benefit from marijuana usage. If it’s a debilitating illness and your physician is of the opinion that the substance can help, there is a chance of obtaining your medical marijuana card.

Know the Limits

There are specific limits to marijuana usage and cultivation, even for patients. State guidelines advise that you’re allowed to possess as much of the product as a medical expert deems is necessary, but not more. However, you also need to research local laws of your town or county, since they may differ from general state laws.

In terms of cultivation, you can usually have as many as six mature plants on your property. If the plants are still immature, you can grow as many as 12 at a time. The quantity of cultivated plants must still align with the amount of marijuana you need for treatment.

 When it comes to using marijuana as a patient, you’re expected to consume it in private but you can transport it if necessary. In public places, especially on or even near properties such as schools, you can be prosecuted for using marijuana.

Don’ts of Buying Medical Marijuana in California

To protect yourself, ensure you avoid the following common mistakes that create the risk of being fined. In extreme cases there are the possibilities of facing jail time, especially if you should overstep a federal guideline.

Trust Any Dispensary

Although this arrangement may change in future, medical marijuana should be purchased from non-profit outlets.

Just because someone sells marijuana doesn’t mean they’re legally allowed to do so. There are strict laws in place that require individuals to obtain licenses before selling to anyone—whether you’re a patient or a recreational user. So, don’t buy before requesting proof of the dispensary’s paperwork.

Exceed the Prescribed Amount

Patients are given more freedom regarding marijuana use, and you can possess more than the 1oz that recreational users are allowed. However, you can’t simply keep large amounts of marijuana on hand. What you own must be proportionate to what medical experts say is necessary to assist with your treatment.

Use While Working

It’s good news that using medicinal marijuana can’t get you fired from your job. However, you’re not allowed to use the substance on the work premises. Keep it at home and limit usage to off duty hours. In this way you ensure it doesn’t affect your work performance and that you don’t break laws related to possession in public places.


California allows a lot of freedom in terms of marijuana use, but even for patients it’s still a balancing act to keep within state guidelines. Laws also change from time to time, so do the necessary research about rules in your town or country, so you know you’re always on the safe side of the law.  

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