Medical Marijuana Infographic

Timeline of Prop. 215 and SB420 – California’s Medical Marijuana Laws

Prop. 215 took effect on Nov. 6, 1996 as California Health & Safety Code 11362.5. The law makes it legal for patients and their designated primary caregivers to possess and cultivate marijuana for their personal medical use given the recommendation or approval of a California-licensed physician.

Prop. 215 explicitly covers marijuana possession and cultivation for personal medical use. Hashish and concentrated cannabis, including edibles, are also included.

SB420, a legislative statute, went into effect on January 1, 2004 as California H&SC 11362.7-.83. This law broadens Prop. 215 to transportation and other offenses in certain circumstances; allows patients to form medical cultivation “collectives” or “cooperatives”; and establishes a voluntary state ID card system run through county health departments. SB420 sets a baseline statewide guideline of 6 mature or 12 immature plants, and 1/2 pound (8 oz.) processed cannabis per patient. Individual cities and counties are allowed to enact higher, but not lower, limits than the state standard.

Under Prop. 215, a recommendation is valid so long as the doctor says it is. However, SB420 requires ID cards to be renewed annually, and many police refuse to recognize recommendations that are older than a year or so. Courts have ruled that patients must have a valid approval at the time of their arrest, though this can have been oral.

Patients are not required to get an ID card to enjoy the protection of Prop. 215. All that is needed is a physician’s statement saying that marijuana is “approved” or “recommended.”


As Medical Marijuana Laws continue to be progressive we still see entities such as the DEA and the U.N. fight to nullify the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado for fear of a domino effect across the nation. As we go through these changes remain knowledgeable on the current Medical Marijuana Laws, their guidelines and spread knowledge. Cannabis has uses beyond simply altering one’s state of being and the studies on cannabis continue to uncover more and more benefits. Our bodies are wired to intake cannabis, hemp can be used for a wide array of manufacturing purposes, and the relief brought to patients and the economy are indisputable.

For a deeper look into Medical Marijuana Laws check out the California NORML site.


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