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Updated on Friday April 29, 2022

Reviewed By Stephanie Bagnall, J.D. on April 7, 2022

In November 2016, California passed Proposition 64, the Adult Use Marijuana Act (AUMA), legalizing recreational marijuana use for adults twenty-one (21) years of age or older. On January 1, 2018, California began its first day of adult-use cannabis sales, making recreational dispensaries officially open to the public. California legalized medical marijuana under Proposition 215 in 1996, and further defined by Senate Bill 420 in 2003. 


Those who are twenty-one (21) years or older are able to possess up to twenty-eight and a half (28.5) grams of marijuana flower and up to eight (8) grams of marijuana concentrate. Additionally, adults are allowed to possess up to six (6) living cannabis plants within their private residence.

If you are twenty-one (21) years or older and possess a government-issued identification to prove you are twenty-one (21) years or older, you have a constitutional right to possess and consume marijuana in California.

A qualified medical patient or primary caregiver may possess no more than eight ounces. 

Purchasing Limits

Adults twenty-one (21) years of age or older with a valid, government-issued ID are able to purchase up to twenty-eight and a half (28.5) grams of marijuana flower and up to eight (8) grams of marijuana concentrate. Medical users can purchase up to eight (8) oz. of cannabis daily. Where to Buy

Qualifying Conditions

Qualifying conditions for participation in the state's Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program (MMICP) are:

  • AIDS
  • anorexia
  • arthritis
  • cachexia (wasting syndrome)
  • cancer
  • chronic pain
  • glaucoma
  • migraine
  • persistent muscle spasms (e.g. spasms associated with multiple sclerosis)
  • seizures (e.g. epileptic seizures)
  • severe nausea


  • Any other chronic or persistent medical symptom that either substantially limits a person's ability to conduct one of more of major life activities as defined in the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, or if not alleviated, may cause serious harm to the person's safety, physical, or mental health.

A person with a qualifying condition does not need to be a resident of California to obtain a medical marijuana registration. Anyone in the state, resident or visitor, may apply for a card, and if granted, will be afforded the protections of a cardholder. However, with one exception: out-of-state residents will still be charged taxes on medical marijuana the same way that adult-use consumers are. It's unclear if this is specifically in the ruleset, but dispensaries will enforce it nonetheless and charge taxes to non-resident cardholders. Get Your Card


As with other states that have passed measures to legalize recreational marijuana, there are several restrictions on consumption. Under AUMA, marijuana consumption is housed under one term, “Smoke.” To smoke refers to inhaling, burning, or carrying a lighted/heated device/pipe intended for inhalation. Please note that electronic devices such as vaporizers or aerosols, and even ingesting all fall under this same category. Essentially, there is no circumvention of the law when it comes to cannabis consumption in a prohibited place, so always be sure to follow the law accordingly.

First and foremost, you are NOT allowed to consume legal cannabis in the following places:

  • ANY public place or area
  • ANY location where tobacco smoking is prohibited
  • Within 1,000 feet of a school, youth center or day care where children are present while not inside the confines of a private residence (If you are at a private residence WITHIN 1,000 feet of a school/day care/youth center, you may consume ONLY if the smoking is undetectable to the surrounding area)

You ARE able to consume legal cannabis in any of the following places

  • Private residences
  • Licensed Consumption Areas such as Social Lounges.
  • Accessory structures located on the grounds of a private residence that is enclosed & secure from the public
  • Outdoors on a private residence so long as the city/county the residence is located in does not prohibit such action

Driving Under the Influence

Even though recreational cannabis may be legal, please be aware that driving under the influence of marijuana is still very illegal. In fact, since the passing of AUMA, many people believe that law enforcement will dedicate increased time and manpower to enforcing canna-DUI laws.

To be clear, ANY instance of driving under the influence of marijuana is deemed unlawful by the California state government and law enforcement. Penalties for marijuana DUIs can range anywhere from informal probation, fines/license suspension or even jail time. Similar to that of alcohol DUIs, penalties increase with each conviction.

Clearly the risks associated with driving high far outweigh the rewards, so always consume your cannabis responsibly and legally.

Transporting Marijuana

Adults 21 years of age or older are allowed to transport up to twenty-eight (28.5) grams of marijuana flower and up to eight (8) grams of marijuana concentrate. To legally transport marijuana, it must be kept in a child-proof container out of direct reach of the driver.

It is NOT legal to transport an open package or container of marijuana/marijuana products. This rule goes for all passengers in the vehicle. Additionally, passengers of a vehicle are prohibited from smoking inside of the vehicle.

Exporting Marijuana

Exporting marijuana across state lines, whether driven or through the mail, is illegal in the state of California (Even if the state you are exporting to has legalized recreational cannabis).


California residents can possess and cultivate up to six (6) living marijuana plants. Additionally, only six (6) plants are allowed per residence at a given time.

Marijuana plants must be kept in a locked space that is not visible to the public, and any marijuana product resulting from the plant that exceeds twenty-eight and a half (28.5) grams must be kept secure within the private residence of the grower. Learn to Grow


California does not grant reciprocity to out-of-state medical marijuana patients, however, the state does allow non-residents to apply to the medical marijuana program.


California allows both medical and recreational cannabis delivery.Find Delivery

*Legal Disclaimer: This article is not meant to serve as legal advice and is for informational purposes only. Laws and regulations are always changing. Therefore, if you have any legal questions regarding California's medical marijuana laws you must consult with a licensed California attorney.

Expert Reviewer

Stephanie Bagnall, J.D. Stephanie Bagnall, J.D.

Stephanie Bagnall is a legal research and writing expert who supports nonprofits, law firms and other organizations in a wide variety of industries all over the country. She is also a passionate advocate for civil rights and people with disabilities.

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