State and Federal Laws Regarding Cannabis

cannabis plants

California State Law

California statutes specify that, except as authorized by law, the possession, cultivation, possession for sale, transportation, administration, or furnishing of cannabis are state criminal violations. State law further punishes anyone who maintains a place for the purpose of unlawfully selling, using or furnishing, or who knowingly makes available a place for storing, manufacturing, or distributing cannabis.

Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (Proposition 215)

On November 5, 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (Health & Safety Code § 11362.5, “CUA”), an initiative that exempted certain patients and their primary caregivers from criminal liability under state law for the possession and cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes. One of the stated purposes of the CUA is to ensure that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use cannabis for medical purposes where that medical use has been recommended by a physician.

Medical Marijuana Program Act (Senate Bill 420)

On January 1, 2004, Senate Bill 420, the Medical Marijuana Program Act (Health & Safety Code §§ 11362.7-11362.83, “MMP”), became law to clarify the scope of the CUA and to facilitate the prompt identification of qualified patients and their primary caregivers.

Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA)

On September 11, 2015, the State enacted the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (Business & Professions Code §§ 19300, et seq.; the “MMRSA”). SB 837 changed the names of the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act to the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (the “MCRSA”) .The MCRSA creates a state licensing program for commercial medical cannabis activities. The MCRSA allows counties and cities to maintain local regulatory authority over medical cannabis. The state will not issue a state license without first receiving authorization by the applicable local jurisdiction.

Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act (Proposition 64)

On November 8, 2016, California voters approved Proposition 64, the California Cannabis Legalization Initiative, also known as the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult use of Marijuana Act (the “AUMA”) (Health & Safety Code § 13362, Business and Professions Code Division 10), an initiative that legalized recreational cannabis for persons aged 21 years or older under state law. The AUMA also establishes certain sales and cultivation taxes. The AUMA renamed the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, established under MCRSA, to the Bureau of Cannabis Control.

Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (SB 94 and AB 110)

On June 27, 2017, the California Senate and Assembly passed SB 94 and AB 110, which are the legislature’s version of the Governor’s Office Budget Trailer Bill to reconcile differences and inconsistencies between MCRSA and AUMA (SB 94 and AB 110).

Federal Law

The federal Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. §§ 801, et.) prohibits, except for certain research purposes, the possession, distribution, and manufacturing of cannabis, and there is no medical necessity exception to prosecution and conviction under the Controlled Substances Act.

Related Forms & Documents

State Cannabis Cultivation Resources

Subscribe to County News

Stay informed by signing up to receive news, announcements and updates on a variety of topics from your County government. Click the button below and provide us with your email address to subscribe. You may unsubscribe at any time. 

Sign Up