Recreational (Comprehensive) and Medical (Comprehensive)

Important Dates

1996: Proposition 215 legalized medical marijuana.
2003: Senate Bill 420 laid out specifics regarding enforcement agencies and the ID card system.
2010: Senate Bill 1449 downgraded the possession of an ounce of marijuana from a misdemeanor to an infraction. Proposition 19 was introduced by supporters seeking to legalize marijuana outright but was defeated.
2015: The Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation was established in order to place guidelines around how medicinal marijuana was grown, dispensed and consumed.
2016: Proposition 64 made recreational marijuana legal in California (with certain regulations).


California’s history with marijuana can be traced back over 100 years, from being the first state to criminalize its cultivation, sales and usage in 1907, to being one of the first states to legalize recreational use in the 21st century. As of 2017, California residents can legally grow, purchase and use marijuana both for medicinal purposes as well as recreationally according to state regulations set forth by its governing agencies.


Can I possess, buy or grow marijuana in California?

You may legally cultivate, possess and use marijuana for recreational purposes in one ounce of marijuana, or eight grams of cannabis concentrates.

Proposition 64 allows individuals who are 21 years of age or older to grow up to six plants per home, contingent on the plants being contained in a locked area and not visible to the public. Additionally, according to CalNORML (updated as of March 24th, 2017), those with a doctor’s recommendation may grow more as long as it is legal in the patient’s jurisdiction.

Can I operate a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana in California?

Varying rules apply in different situations with regard to driving under the influence of marijuana in California. As of January 2017, it is still illegal to drive under the influence, but you can transport marijuana in a vehicle as long as the container is sealed and has not been open or used while driving. Similar to ‘open container’ rules in regards to alcohol, you can still be penalized by fine for driving with marijuana that isn’t properly sealed.

How do I get a medical marijuana card in California?

Currently, the easiest way to obtain a medical marijuana card, also known as a doctor’s recommendation is by completing an online evaluation and purchasing the letter and card. Legally, this is all that is required to purchase cannabis from a dispensary. You will, however, need to renew your recommendation annually.

Can I use marijuana in public in California?

It is illegal to consume marijuana on the street or in public spaces.

Can I sell marijuana in California?

Sale and distribution from one individual to another is illegal. However, SB 420 allows for communities, collectives and cooperatives to grow on a non-profit basis and sell to its members. The legal sale and distribution of recreational marijuana won’t be entirely clear until at least 2018, when lawmakers and governing agencies aim to have a framework of guidelines in place.


The information presented here should not be construed as legal advice. State and Federal laws are always subject to change. We aim to keep this page as updated as possible; however, for additional information regarding California marijuana laws, please see the California Cannabis Portal, Find Law and the National Conference of State Legislatures.