Is Weed Legal in California?

Being one of the most popular states in the country, it’s just right for visitors to know the answer to the question, is weed legal in California? Being caught outside your comfort zone can extremely be stressful – and that is why we made this guide!

When you finish this article, you will find out everything you have to know about the legalities of marijuana or cannabis in the state of California – you won’t be lost!

California’s Cannabis Journey


At first glance, you would think that California will be one of the states that would have the most lenient rules and regulations about cannabis, right? Although that is partially true, that wasn’t what the case was before!

Industrial Hemp and Psychoactive Cannabis

In as early as 1795, hemp was being cultivated and used in the state of California, but not for what it’s actually used for today. Rope was one of the primary products of hemp, and it was what’s manufactured through the manufacturing plants all across the state.

The psychoactive cannabis was not in people’s vocabularies until 1895 when Turks, Armenians, and Arabs started to cultivate cannabis for recreational use.

Then, in 1907, the Poison Act was passed, which fulfilled the wants of the people who are not involved in it. Through this law, carrying or possessing extracts, tinctures, as well as narcotics (preparations of loco-weed or hemp) is considered a misdemeanor.

Amendments were made increasing the fines and penalties for people who would be caught with the substance (in any form), and it was not until the 1960s when the Lowell Eggemeier of San Francisco was arrested.

DID YOU KNOW: Lowell Eggemeier was an 80-year-old enthusiast who walked into the Hall of Justice and lit up a joint and said he is starting a campaign that would legalize marijuana smoking.



The first decriminalization instances and chances that the state had started in 1975 via the Moscone Act. Senate Bill (SB) 95, otherwise known as the Moscone Act, was made to make the carrying or possession of one (1) ounce of marijuana a misdemeanor, punishable by just a $100-fine.

In 1973, Berkeley voters passed the Berkeley Marijuana Initiative I, prohibiting the federal law to perform marijuana-related arrests unless the City Council approves it.

Fast-forward to 1996, Proposition 215 was passed, making the consumption and sale of marijuana for medical purposes legal, but it was still in conflict with a few federal statutes.

From then on, improvements and developments to the medical rules and laws of marijuana have been made – we’ll get on to that shortly!

Is Weed Legal in California: California’s Cannabis Laws

Is Weed Legal in California California’s Cannabis Laws

Yes, we’re aware of the history of cannabis or marijuana in the state of California, but was that able to answer our question? No – therefore, the inquiry is still left open!

To answer that question concisely, yes, weed is legal and has been decriminalized in California. It’s legal to the extent that people openly use it without concealing it. So, whether you’re a registered and qualified medical marijuana patient or you’re just using or consuming cannabis for recreational purposes, you wouldn’t feel threatened by consuming or using it in the state.

Medical Cannabis

The early stages of battle for the legalization of marijuana were in 1996, and it wasn’t until 2003 when Senate Bill (SB) 420 came to be. This passage was the one responsible for the establishing of an ID system for medical cannabis patients.

FUN FACT: The state of California was the first-ever state to pass and establish a medical cannabis program (1996 via Proposition 215) and a legislature (2003 via Senate Bill 420).

Today, medical marijuana in the Golden State is widely accepted with specifics and particulars in the qualifying conditions and methodologies. With a physician’s recommendation, you’ll be able to purchase cannabis products with more THC, have more cannabis without any offenses, and grow cannabis plants at home.

Eligible Medical Conditions

Eligible Medical Conditions

In order for you to have a medical marijuana card in California, the conditions that are allowed are:

  • Cancer
  • Anorexia
  • AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
  • Glaucoma
  • Migraine
  • Seizures
  • Chronic or Severe Pain
  • Arthritis or Chronic Arthritis
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Severe Nausea

The process is simple – you just have to fill out the application form, ensure that you have all the required documents, schedule and make an appointment with any county health department, and wait for approval.

Check this link to see the full process of applying for a medical marijuana card in California.

NOTE: The typical timeframe of the issuance of a medical marijuana card in California is around 35 to 40 days.

Recreational Cannabis

In the state, people who are at least 18 years old will be allowed to possess or consume marijuana. Those that are not a part of the Californian medical cannabis program, the age requirement is at least 21 years old.

The following are the limitations or allowance of medical cannabis in the state:

  • 28.5 grams of marijuana flower
  • Up to 226.7 grams of dried cannabis or concentrates and up to six (6) mature plants or twelve (12) immature plants (medical marijuana patients)
  • Up to 8 grams of concentrates
  • Can grow and cultivate up to six (6) plants in their private households or properties

The penalties for possession, with intent to distribute, sale or delivery, and cultivation vary. Here’s a table that would help you understand these offenses and penalties better:

Personal Use

Personal Use

Marijuana that you intend to use for personal leisure or consumption.

Offense or Amount of CannabisPenaltyIncarcerationMaximum Fine
Up to 28.5 grams of flowersNoneNo ImprisonmentNo Fine
28.5 grams or less (under 18 years old)InfractionNo ImprisonmentNo Fine
28.5 grams or more (under 18 years old)InfractionNo ImprisonmentNo Fine
28.5 grams or less, over 18 years, and occurred on school groundsMisdemeanor10 days$500
More than 28.5 gramsMisdemeanor6 months$500

With Intention of Distribution

With Intention of Distribution

For people who have the intention of distributing or sharing with other people regardless of whether there was an exchange of value or not.

Offense or Amount of CannabisPenaltyIncarcerationMaximum Fine
Any amount of cannabis (under 18 years old)InfractionNo imprisonmentNo Fine
Any amount of cannabisMisdemeanor6 months$500

Sale or Delivery

For people who are planning on selling or delivering marijuana.

Offense or Amount of CannabisPenaltyIncarcerationMaximum Fine
Any amount of cannabis (under 18 years old)InfractionNo ImprisonmentNo Fine
Gift of 28.5 grams or lessNo penaltyNo Imprisonment$100
Any amountMisdemeanor6 months$500


Lastly would be cultivation or when you grow cannabis inside your private households or homes.

Offense or Amount of CannabisPenaltyIncarcerationMaximum Fine
Maximum of six (6) plantsNo penaltyNo ImprisonmentNo Fine
Any amount, under 18 yearsInfractionNo ImprisonmentNo Fine
6 plants or moreMisdemeanor6 months$500

When You’ll Be Penalized For Cannabis in California

When You’ll Be Penalized For Cannabis in California

Like in any other state, the governing laws, penalties, and fines for cannabis vary. However, since the state has been consistently lenient when it comes to its residents, people are allowed to possess or carry up to 28.5 grams of marijuana flower, cultivate up to six (6) plants in their private households or properties, or carry up to 8 grams of hash or flower legally.

Check the table above for reference on the different penalties and fees involved when caught within the state.

In case you’re still clouded with questions surrounding the legalization of marijuana in the state of California, we prepared this list of FAQs just for you!

Where Can I Smoke in California?
The official California state laws only prohibit smoking in public places or publicly owned buildings and establishments. You are legally allowed to smoke on a private property, given the landlord allowed it to do so.

Is Bringing Weed to California Illegal?
No, it’s not. In simpler terms, bringing of cannabis or marijuana between and across states is illegal. This is regardless whether the state you’re coming from and the state you are traveling to has decriminalized and/or approved recreational cannabis. Flying and crossing is the same – it is not allowed and there’s a chance that your cannabis will be confiscated by the TSA.

Legal Age to Smoke Weed in California
The legal age to smoke weed in the state of California is 21 years old. You will be able to buy cannabis at 18 years old, but only if you have a legal medical marijuana card.

Final Verdict

Were we able to answer your question, is weed legal in California? Hopefully, we did! A lot of people are having second thoughts about the legalities of cannabis in the state. Well, we’re here to tell you not to! Hemp or cannabis, it’s allowed in the state and, therefore, you don’t need to worry!

Bringing in substance from other states is not allowed, though, as it can still be tagged as federal crime. But, you using, consuming, and possessing marijuana in California should never be a problem.

Christopher Andrews
I am Christopher Andrew, the owner of 420 Expert Adviser. I have been in cannabis cultivation for more than ten years, and I'm sharing my experience with you guys using this blog!

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