Frequently Asked Questions

1/1/2023 – Download Cal NORML’s updated pamphlet California Consumers’ Guide to State Marijuana Laws (printable on 8 1/2 x 14″ paper).

1. What am I legal to do now that Prop. 64 has passed in California?

As of November 9, 2016 it became legal for any adult 21 years or older to:

• Possess, transport, obtain or give away to other adults 21 or older no more than one ounce of marijuana or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis.

• Cultivate up to six plants per residence and possess the marijuana produced by these plants (subject to “reasonable regulations” by local governments).

Retail sales for adult use will not begin until licensed stores are in operation after Jan 1, 2018. In the meantime, Prop 215 patients with a doctor’s recommendation can continue to purchase at medical collectives and dispensaries.

Read more.

2. Do I still need a doctor’s note now that Prop. 64 has passed?

Adults 21 and over are now legal to posses under an ounce of cannabis in California without a doctor’s recommendation. Some medical marijuana dispensaries are now serving retail customers, and some are offering discounts for medical patients.

Under current California regulations, stores can sell only one ounce of cannabis, 8 grams of concentrate, and six immature plants daily to recreational users. Medical users can purchase up to 8 oz. of cannabis and 12 plants daily. Cannabis products such as tinctures, capsules and topicals are limited to a maximum of 1,000 mg per package for the adult-use market, but patients can purchase products containing up to 2,000 mg of THC per package.

Under Prop. 64, Californians can grow up to 6 plants for their personal use (per parcel, not per person). Local jurisdictions may ban outdoor cultivation, but may not ban growing 6 plants indoors or in a “secure” location (they can, however, “reasonably regulate” it). Patients with a doctor’s recommendation can still grow more plants if needed, provided their local jurisdictions will allow it. Also, there are protections for parental rights for medical marijuana patients in Prop. 64 (not recreational users).

In addition, patients with a state ID card, which can be signed up for with a doctor’s recommendation at county health departments, now get a break on local sales taxes because of Prop. 64’s passage. Read more.

3. How can I get a license to grow or sell marijuana now that Prop. 64 has passed? 
See general information about starting marijuana businesses.

4. When and where can I grow my six plants, and how can I get clones or seeds to grow marijuana now that it’s legal under Prop. 64?
You can grow your six plants per parcel of land at your residence now, subject to “reasonable regulations” by local governments, which may also ban outdoor cultivation. A great many locals have already banned outdoor marijuana cultivation, and others are moving to ban or adopt regulations in the wake of Prop. 64. We expect litigation over what a “reasonable regulation” is.

In the meantime, it’s legal for people to give away under an ounce of marijuana, so another adult or patient could give you some seeds or clones. They are also available at some licensed cannabis retailers. In no case are seeds or clones legal to cross state lines.

5. Am I protected against employment drug testing now that Prop. 64 passed?
Unfortunately, no. Prop. 64 specifically allows employers to continue to discriminate against marijuana users. In California, even medical marijuana patients can be fired for failing an employment drug test. Cal NORML is working for legislation to change this! Please join us and help change the law. Write [email protected]

6. How can I get my sentence reduced or record expunged under Prop. 64?
Under a new state law, the state Department of Justice has until July 1, 2019 to identify past convictions that are potentially eligible for recall or dismissal of sentence, dismissal and sealing, or redesignation. The DOJ will notify the DAs of all cases in their jurisdiction that are eligible, and the prosecutors have have until July 1, 2020, to review all cases and inform the court and the public defender’s office in their county when they are challenging a particular case. Unless the case is challenged, sentence reduction or expungement is automatic.

Prop. 64 had a mechanism for petitioning for resentencing that is still in place. Read more.

7. How can I find a lawyer? 
See our legal referral page.

8. Where can I find a physician to recommend medical marijuana?
Any California licensed physician can recommend or approve your use of medical marijuana. Also see our index of Medicinal Cannabis Practitioners.

9. Where can I find a cannabis retailer or delivery service?
See our list of Cannabis Dispensaries and Delivery Services. Many retailers and deliveries now sell to the adult market (over 21) as well as the medical market.

10. How much marijuana can I grow for my personal use? 
Under Prop. 64, everyone can grow 6 plants at their residence (the limit is per residence, not per person). Local may ban outdoor cultivation, and “reasonably regulate” indoor cultivation, which must be in a residence or secure location.

Medical patients can still grow whatever they need, provided local zoning regulations permit it.
See Cannabis Cultivation Guidelines in California.

11. Can I legally grow marijuana to sell?
Under state law, the California Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (Prop. 215) patients and their “primary caregivers” are protected from criminal prosecution under state law for personal possession and cultivation of marijuana, but NOT for distribution or sale to others. Those who cultivate for others require local and state licenses.

12. How can I grow medical marijuana collectively with or for other patients?
For medical cannabis, caregivers can grow for up to five patients under state law. Gardens are subject to local land-use ordinances, many of which ban medical cultivation or force it indoors, with other restrictions.

13. Is it OK to sell medical marijuana on Craigslist?
Cal NORML strongly cautions against this. We have had many reports of undercover police officers posing as patients in order to bust those who seek to sell marijuana on Craigslist.

14. Do I need a medical marijuana I.D. card?
They are voluntary, but may protect you better from arrest, and offer a tax break. Read more.

15. Can employers and others access my medical marijuana recommendation or ID card information?
No. The state ID card system has safeguards to protect patient privacy. Patient names and addresses are not kept in the state’s data base: the only information retained is a personal photo and ID number. The privacy of medical records is protected by federal HIPAA laws. However, if you’re drug tested, a medical marijuana recommendation won’t protect you (see FAQ #11 below). Read more on privacy.

16. I get drug tested at my job. Can I use marijuana?
Not necessarily. The California Supreme Court ruled that employers can discriminate against medical marijuana users. The legislature passed a bill to change that in 2008, but Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed it.

This did not change with the passage of Prop. 64, which specifically allows employers to discriminate against marijuana users. It is part of Cal NORML’s Post-64 legislative agenda to advocate for workers’ rights. Please join us and help with this effort!

17. Can I lose my professional license because I use medical marijuana in California?
No. See: California Health and Safety Code 11362.8.
“No professional licensing board may impose a civil penalty or take other disciplinary action against a licensee based solely on the fact that the licensee has performed acts that are necessary or appropriate to carry out the licensee’s role as a designated primary caregiver to a person who is a qualified patient or who possesses a lawful identification card issued pursuant to Section 11362.72.”

18. Can I take my marijuana on a plane?
TSA officials have indicated that flying within the state with under an ounce of marijuana is permitted. There’s nothing they can charge people for if they have under an ounce, but still Cal NORML cautions against openly revealing their marijuana to authorities.

If you’re flying to another state, check for their laws, including reciprocity with state medical marijuana laws. In no case is medical marijuana or marijuana legal to transport out of state.

Non-citizens should beware about carrying medical marijuana through US airports. Although TSA and local police have generally been tolerant of medical marijuana in airline baggage in legal states like CA, this may not be the case when dealing with non-citizens.

If you are not a U.S. citizen, think about whether you should carry your medical cannabis recommendation with you. Reports are that ICE is asking if people have their cards and/or use medical marijuana, and using that as grounds for deportation on grounds that they are in violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act. This means permanent residents, Visa holders, and those who are not naturalized nor are a natural born citizen.

19. I am traveling to another state. Can I use my California medical marijuana card or recommendation there?
Arizona and Montana have reciprocity in their medical marijuana laws. Maine allows out-of-state patients to exercise their rights for 30 days. Rhode Island respects out-of-state recommendations for any “debilitating medical condition.” Michigan accepts medical cards from states that also have reciprocity (California’s doesn’t). Vermont allows recommendations from neighboring states for Vermont residents only.

The Oregon law does not include a reciprocity provision. However, the Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled (and the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program has confirmed) that patients from out of state are permitted to register with the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program to obtain a registry identification card, the same as an Oregon resident, which will protect them from arrest or prosecution while in Oregon. These out of state patients are required to obtain a recommendation for the medical use of marijuana from an Oregon licensed physician. State v. Berringer, 229 P3d 615 (2010).

Also see: AG: Calif. doctor’s notes not valid at Nevada marijuana dispensaries. (Nevada has now legalized recreational use of marijuana.)

Read more about other states’ laws.

20. Can I use marijuana on federal land in California?
No. Marijuana users and medical cannabis patients are not protected while on federal park land or forest land in California. Cal NORML has received reports of campers and those driving through federal land who are searched, charged with federal possession statutes, and had their cannabis confiscated. A California medical recommendation is not a defense in federal court to these charges.

See list of federal parks and forests within California.

Also see: Pot is legal in California. So why are people still being busted in Yosemite?

21. I am coming to California. Can I use marijuana there? 
Now that recreational marijuana is legal in California, tourists over 21 can purchase marijuana at recreational shops, and use it in licensed consumption spaces.

22. Is hashish covered under the medical marijuana laws?
Qualified patients can use and make hashish legally under state law. See Attorney General’s ruling.

In December 2014, a California appeals court ruled that concentrated cannabis qualifies as medical marijuana under the Compassionate Use Act. This doesn’t really mark a change in policy; but since some courts and DAs have been reluctant to respect the AG’s opinion, it’s good to have an appellate court rule this way.

However, the Bergen Decision (2008) determined that using butane to make hash oil is not covered by the medical use statutes. California Health and Safety Code Section 11379.6(a) makes it unlawful to engage in the chemical extraction of a substance as part of the process of manufacturing a controlled substance. The charge carries a prison sentence of 3-7 years and a fine of up to $50,000. Several fires have been reported due to BHO extraction. It is unsafe, and illegal. Butane hash-making equipment and chemicals seem to be a red flag for authorities when it comes to child endangerment charges and possible removal of children from the home.

23. Can I use medical marijuana while on probation or parole?
Yes, unless the judge specifies that you cannot under the terms of your probation, which you may appeal. You can request that the judge affirm your use of medical marijuana or modify the terms of your probation to allow medical marijuana use. See Section 11362.795 of SB420
People v. Tilehkooh established that it is state, not federal law that governs this question.

24. Can I grow or use marijuana with children in the house?
There is nothing in state law against this. However it’s advised to keep your medical marijuana away from children. Make sure that you don’t leave edibles around where kids can get them, and keep gardens away from where they play. Butane hash-making equipment and chemicals seem to be a red flag for authorities when it comes to children.

In rare cases Child Protective Services has become involved, mostly in cases with large plant numbers, evidence of sales, neglect, or messy divorce proceedings. In such cases, CPS tends not to be understanding about medical marijuana and can always allege child endangerment.

Prop. 64, which passed in November 2016, states that CPS cannot use a parent’s status as a medical marijuana patient as the sole reason to interfere with parental rights. H&SC 11362.84

Also see: Family Law and Cannabis Alliance and Parents, Kids and Cannabis: Best Practices

25. Can I own or buy a gun if I use marijuana?
The federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms sent letters to gun dealers in 2011 warning them they could not sell to known marijuana users. When buying a gun, question 11e on the ATF form asks, “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana?”

Answering yes makes you ineligible to purchase; falsely answering no is in principle punishable as perjury. This should not affect current gun owners.

On August 31, 2016 a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a challenge to this policy from a medical marijuana patient in Wilson v. Lynch. The opinion states: “Wilson could have amassed legal firearms before acquiring a registry card, and [federal statutes] and the Open Letter would not impede her right to keep her firearms or to use them to protect herself and her home. In addition, Wilson could acquire firearms and exercise her right to self-defense at any time by surrendering her registry card, thereby demonstrating to a firearms dealer that there is no reasonable cause to believe she is an unlawful drug user.”

Although California law does not prohibit marijuana users from having guns, using a gun in connection with an offense such as cultivation or possession with sale can result in additional criminal charges. Users are advised to keep their guns in a location that is separate from their marijuana.

Read more.

26. Can I lose my housing if I use or grow marijuana?
The US Dept of Housing and Urban Development has stated that local housing authorities can determine their own policies regarding medical marijuana use in HUD housing. We suggest contacting a local NORML attorney about your housing rights.

Landlords may make conditions on tenancy that exclude medical marijuana cultivation or use. Oftentimes, they need to be educated about the law; you can show them our Patient’s Rights to Medical Marijuana pamphlet and explain that you are legal under state law. Vaporizing or using edibles can be a solution to issues of smells that annoy neighbors.

This is unlikely to change with the passage of Prop. 64 unless we can get legislation protecting tenants’ rights in Sacramento. Please join Cal NORML and help with this effort.

27. How can I join or support California NORML?
See our membership page to join or donate to CalNORML. Read more about how to get involved.

You can also support us by patronizing the business that sponsor us, and the collectives,delivery services, and doctors who are CalNORML members.

28. How can I find a California NORML chapter, or start one?
See a list of California chapters.

See information on forming a chapter.

Contact Ellen Komp, CaNORML deputy director, for California chapter support.