Medical Marijuana


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 several occasions.

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 of marijuana.
(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.


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