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Is Weed Legal in California? What You Should Know

Is Weed Legal in California

Is weed legal in California? Cannabis legalization for medical use first occurred in 1996 with the compassionate use act and recreational cannabis was legalized in 2016. California has long been at the forefront of cannabis legalization being the first state to legalize marijuana for medical use. However, the use, sale and possession of cannabis remains illegal under federal law.

Weed Legal In California – Law’s Covering Marijuana Control

There are two main laws that deal with weed legal in California. The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) and California’s 1996 Medical Marijuana Law, Prop 215.

AUMA legalized cannabis for recreational use in 2016 and covers recreational marijuana for adult use including possession of marijuana and marijuana cultivation. Under AUMA cannabis law it is legal for any adult over the age of 21 to:

  • Purchase, possess, process, transport, obtain and give away to another person over 21 years of age not more than 1 ounce of cannabis or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis.
  • Possess, plant, cultivate and process not more than 6 cannabis plants.

Thus you can use and even grow marijuana providing the restrictions and prohibited activities are not disregarded.

California’s medical marijuana law remains in effect under AUMA and gives patients and their designated primary caregivers the right to possess and grow medical marijuana for their personal needs, providing they have the recommendation or approval of a California-licensed physician, with no set limit on the amounts of marijuana that can be possessed.

There is also no age limit for medical cannabis use although minors under 18 do require parental permission. Young adults aged 18 to 20 are able to visit California’s medical marijuana dispensaries but not adult-use ones.

Patients who have a medical marijuana card are exempt from sales tax on medical cannabis and cannabis products. Need a medical card? Get in touch with us today.

California’s marijuana laws also regulate and tax the production, and sale of marijuana for adult use and there are a number of state departments and agencies that deal with different aspects of the cultivation, licence and sale of California cannabis.

The Bureau of Cannabis Control is the lead agency responsible for cannabis licenses for medical and adult-use. They issue licences to cannabis events, distributors, retailers, testing laboratories and micro businesses.

The Department of Food and Agriculture takes care of cultivation regulations and the Department of Public Health deals with manufacturing.

What You Should Know to Ensure You Stay Within The Law

Although possession of marijuana is legal in California there are plenty of cannabis regulations that govern its possession and use. Here are a few key things you need to know:

  • To buy use or possess recreational cannabis in California you must be over the age of 21. While there is no age restriction for medicinal use those under the age of 18 need both a letter of recommendation from a physician and parental permission.
  • Cannabis can be legally purchased from licenced shops as well as home delivery services and is available in many varieties and forms.
  • It is illegal to give or sell cannabis to minors, and there are strict rules to possessing cannabis on school property as well as other places such as youth centres.
  • Young adults aged 18-20 may purchase medicinal cannabis from licensed medical dispensaries providing they have a recommendation from a physician, you can apply for a medical marijuana card here, but cannot buy from “A” adult-use licences dispensaries.
  • It is legal to buy and possess up to one ounce or 28.5 grams of marijuana plant material or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis. You may also give this amount away to another adult. Limits are higher if you have a medical card.
  • Commercial cannabis production is regulated but if you are a California resident and you own your own home or have permission from the landlord you may grow up to 6 marijuana plants. You would need a medical card or licence to grow any more than this. Plants must also be out of sight of the general public.
  • Driving under the influence of marijuana remains illegal regardless of whether you are using for medicinal or recreational purposes.
  • It is also illegal to smoke (or consume cannabis) in vehicles regardless of whether you are the driver or a passenger, or to transport cannabis in your vehicle if it is in an open container. With the exception of transporting an unsealed container locked in the trunk of the vehicle.
  • Consuming weed in public is still illegal. That includes smoking, eating and vaporizing, as well as opening marijuana-based products. This includes all places where smoking is not allowed as well as sidewalks, parks and residential areas. Onsite consumption is allowed in some smoking lounges connected to dispensaries as well as at some resorts and events.
  • Consumption is legal in a private residence providing it hasn’t been banned by the landlord.
  • It is illegal to carry cannabis across state lines, even if it is legal in both states.
  • It is illegal to manufacture concentrated cannabis with a volatile solvent unless you are a state-licensed manufacturer.
  • Despite legalization in California local governments still have the power to prohibit legal marijuana sales in their jurisdictions resulting in a large black market. The cannabis industry is big business in California and there are many who still sell cannabis without being licensed.

Cannabis for Medicinal Use

If you are a resident of California you can apply for a Medical Cannabis Physician Recommendation Letter and an ID card online today. This will give you:

  • Up to 25% off in taxes.
  • Access to all state medical dispensaries and delivery services.
  • And authorization to cultivate up to 12 plants.

Simply fill out the online form, have a quick chat to one of our doctors and receive a PDF version of the letter within minutes of approval.


As we said before, weed legal in California is a long-standing issue that has yet to be fully resolved. But what we can say for certain is that it’s slowly becoming legal in many states across the country, and as such, it may eventually make its way to California too.

In case you didn’t know, a number of states including Massachusetts, Maryland and Illinois have already decriminalized cannabis use. If this trend continues towards full legalization then maybe one day California will join them!