History of Accessing Cannabis in California
Legal access to cannabis has come in many forms (and steps) since medical marijuana was first legalized over twenty years ago. These three historic laws helped lead up to recreational legalization.
Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, was the country’s first successful state initiative to legalize medical marijuana for qualifying patients.
Under the proposition, California residents with a valid medical condition can get a marijuana recommendation from a certified doctor, allowing them to use, possess and grow cannabis for medical use. Because the wording is deliberately vague, the proposition allows almost anyone to use medical cannabis for almost any painful condition.
The law also allows medical patients’ primary caregivers to possess and cultivate cannabis on their behalf.
While Prop 215 was revolutionary, it lacked much of the specificity that a true regulated system needs. In 2004, Senate Bill 420, better known as the Medical Marijuana Program Act, was passed in an attempt to clarify gaps in Prop 215 and act as a compromise between patient advocates and law enforcement.
SB 420 included state guidelines for possession limits, allowing MMJ patients to grow up to six mature or 12 immature plants and have up to a half-pound of dried, processed cannabis. Severely or deathly ill patients can exceed this amount if they have a doctor’s written permission.
Arguably the most important aspect of SB 420 was that it established a voluntary identification card system for medical cannabis patients and their caregivers. It protects privacy by assigning each patient a unique ID number that law enforcement can verify without needing more specific info, helping to avoid trouble.
The most recent change to accessing cannabis in California came in November of 2016. Golden State voters passed Proposition 64, also known as the Adult Use Marijuana Act, legalizing recreational cannabis use and possession for adults 21 and older. It doesn’t conflict with Prop 215 so MMJ patients still retain all of their rights and privileges granted under the act.
Adults can legally purchase weed from recreational cannabis stores, plus possess and transport up to 28.5 grams of marijuana and eight grams of concentrated marijuana.
They’re able to smoke, vape or ingest any cannabis form in private homes and businesses licensed for on-site consumption. Finally it allows licensed businesses that sell recreational marijuana to be taxed and regulated by the state government.
How to Find Recreational Cannabis Dispensaries
While Prop 64 passed almost a year ago, the state government must go through a long and arduous rulemaking process before recreational dispensary licenses are granted.
No licenses will be granted before January 2018, though some lawmakers think it may be as long as 2019 before rules are set in place and businesses can officially begin selling recreational weed. Until then, medical dispensaries are your only option.
It’s important to understand that any California dispensary currently claiming to sell recreational cannabis under Prop 64 is acting illegally (careful, they’re out there). While it might be tempting, you’re better off playing it safe and getting access to medical dispensaries; it’s worth it in the long run.
If you’re looking for a medical marijuana dispensary today or the closest recreational dispensary in the future, the following tools can help find them near you.
California’s largest online cannabis marketplace, Nugg finds dispensaries near you that’ll deliver straight to your door. All you have to do is enter your location (address or zip code) and Nugg will instantly produce live menus from all medical dispensaries (and eventually the nearest recreational dispensaries) open near you, along with dispensary reviews from other Nugg users.
Is there anything better and more convenient than getting your medical marijuana delivered right to your door?
Weedmaps, the world’s first marijuana tech and media brand, is a way to find cannabis doctors, storefront dispensaries, products, prices and delivery services operating in your area. Yet unlike Nugg, the giant doesn’t offer direct telehealth services and you can’t directly order from these listed places, only see prices and reviews.
Leafly makes it easy to find a marijuana dispensary near you as well. Just type in your zip code to see a map of several in your immediate area, or you can search by product to see what cannabis clinic near you has it in stock.
They don’t offer delivery, but it’s a good tool to see dispensary menus and discover new products. Their in-depth list of strains can help you discover which flower works best for specific conditions, moods and activities.
Requirements for Accessing a Dispensary Today
Until licenses are granted for recreational cannabis sales, medical dispensaries are your only (and actually best) choice. But before you walk into a MMJ storefront or order cannabis online, you must have a valid MMJ recommendation or ID card. If you need one, there are a few options to choose from, though not all are created equal.
First, ask your primary care physician if he or she’s willing to recommend medical cannabis based on your symptoms/condition. Unfortunately, even in today’s age, most won’t officially be on board with it–though they might suggest trying one of the two following methods.
Second, you could visit a local medical marijuana doctor who specializes in helping recommend medical marijuana to qualifying patients. But this means searching for local cannabis docs, comparing fees, driving, and waiting before you see a doctor, only to pay a huge fee for little service.
Lastly, you can and should use patient-favorite NuggMD, by far the fastest and most affordable way to get certified by a cannabis doctor ONLINE! Their telemedicine service allows you to skip the red tape, saving you time and money.
It’s easy. All you need is an internet connection and a webcam to have your consultation anywhere, even from bed! Just fill out some basic info about yourself and your condition(s), upload a photo, then consult the doc for a live, face-to-face chat.
NuggMD doctors are knowledgeable, friendly and helpful, so no need to be intimidated or afraid. While the evaluation just lasts around ten minutes, you can take as long as necessary for the doc to answer all of your MMJ related questions and concerns.
The whole process only costs $49. Need a renewal? It’s also only $49. And if you aren’t approved, you pay nothing.
Once certified, you’ll immediately be emailed a temporary copy of your rec until the hard copy comes in the mail a few days later. If you plan on visiting a storefront dispensary, check online or call ahead to find out if they accept this temporary rec. Otherwise, get your weed straight from Nugg’s several dispensary partners across California.
Remember to visit the Nugg Blog for info on all things cannabis and sign up for Nugg’s cannabis delivery using the promo code BLOG20 to get $20 off! You won’t find a better deal in California.
Requirements for Accessing Recreational Dispensaries Near You
Once the recreational market is up and running, any adult age 21 and up with a valid photo ID will have to access recreational marijuana dispensaries. Recreational users will be able to buy several products like flower, edibles, tinctures, beverages, and topicals.
While visiting a nearby recreational dispensary may seem like a no-brainer, users will be taxed at a higher rate than medical cannabis patients and there’ll be potency limits on edibles, requiring all infused foods to be dosed in 10mg pieces. Potency limits for edibles will be higher for medical marijuana patients, as well as possession and home grow limits.
It’s important to remember that there are currently no legal recreational weed stores in California and, mostly likely, won’t be any for a while. Lawmakers are hopeful that recreational licenses will be distributed in 2018, but until then you’ll need a MMJ recommendation or ID card to access any dispensary’s weed products.
NuggMD and Nugg are well worth the money for easy access to hundreds of dispensaries and the security of being a MMJ patient. Plus, no more seemingly endless searches for “recreational weed near me,” “where is the closest dispensary,” and “recreational marijuana shops near me”!
Don’t wait for recreational marijuana stores to sprout up; become a cannabis patient today!
Nugg is the "GrubHub for marijuana." Our site lets medical marijuana patients order online from dispensaries that deliver to them. Signup with the code BLOG20 for a $20 credit on your first order!