In 1996, the
voters in California overwhelmingly approved Proposition
215 -- The Compassionate Use Act. Since then, Mr.
Feinland has been very active in the development of
guidelines to protect legitimate users of medical
cannabis. For example, Mr. Feinland has represented the
Sonoma Alliance for Medical Marijuana in its negotiations
with the Sonoma County District Attorney and Sheriff's
Department since 1997 in its efforts protect patients and
caregivers. Also, he has aggressively represented
individuals protected by the statute, and has been
successful in getting criminal charges dismissed on
The language in Prop 215 is powerful. The Health &
Safety Code, section 11362.5, now reads as follows:
(a) This section shall be known and may be cited as the
Compassionate Use Act of 1996.
(b)(1) The people of the State of California hereby find
and declare that the purposes of the Compassionate Use
Act of 1996 are as follows:
(A) To ensure that seriously ill Californians have the
right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes
where that medical use is deemed appropriate and has been
recommended by a physician who has determined that the
person's health would benefit from the use of marijuana
in the treatment of cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain,
spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or any other
illness for which marijuana provides relief.
(B) To ensure that patients and their primary caregivers
who obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes upon
the recommendation of a physician are not subject to
criminal prosecution or sanction.
(C) To encourage the federal and state governments to
implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable
distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need
(2) Nothing in this section shall be construed to
supersede legislation prohibiting persons from engaging
in conduct that that endangers others, nor to condone the
diversion of marijuana for non-medical purposes.
(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no
physician in this state shall be punished, or denied any
right or privilege, for having recommended marijuana to a
patient for medical purposes.
(d) Section 11357, relating to the possession of
marijuana, and Section 11358, relating to the cultivation
of marijuana, shall not apply to a patient, or to a
patient's primary caregiver, who possesses or cultivates
marijuana for the personal medical purposes of the
patient upon the written or oral recommendation or
approval of a physician.
e) For the purposes of this section, "primary
caregiver" means the individual designated by the
person exempted under this section who has consistently
assumed responsibility for the housing, health, and
safety of that person.
While the language of the statute is broad, several
recent cases have interpreted this statute narrowly. Most
importantly, you should have approval or a recommendation
from a licensed physician (preferably in writing) before
you possess cannabis for medical purposes. Also, the
amount of cannabis in your possession must be a
reasonable amount for personal use.
Representing the rights of
individuals throughout the Bay Area
by Law Enforcement
Information about Criminal Charges
Under the Influence
Violence and Child Endangerment
Arrest / Free Speech
and Federal Motions, Trials and Appeals
Our cases in the News