Federal Law: The Controlled Substances Act
Summary: The Controlled Substances Act states that it is unlawful to manufacture, distribute, dispense or possess any amount of any controlled substance. Under the CSA, marijuana is still classified as a drug with no currently accepted medical use. However, Congress has given states the freedom to regulate controlled substances, including marijuana, provided that the state’s law does not directly conflict with the CSA. Neither The Compassionate Use Act nor the Medical Marijuana Program Act directly conflicts with the CSA because California did not attempt to legalize marijuana under federal law. Instead, California exempted certain marijuana offenses from punishment under state law. Because the state and federal government treat marijuana differently in the laws, there is no direct conflict.
Law : The Medical Marijuana Program Act
Summary: Also known as Senate Bill 420, this act passed in 2004 and requires the California Department of Public Health to maintain a program for the voluntary registration of qualified medical marijuana patients and their primary caregivers through a statewide identification card system. These cards are intended to help law enforcement officers identify and verify that cardholders are able to cultivate, possess, and transport certain amounts of marijuana without being subject to arrest under qualifying conditions.
Law: The Compassionate Use Act
Summary: Also known as Prop 215, this act passed in 1996 and decriminalized the cultivation and possession of marijuana by seriously ill individuals and their primary caregivers upon a physician’s verbal or written recommendation. The purpose of this act was to allow California residents with a qualifying condition to obtain and use marijuana for medical aid. This act also protects the transportation of marijuana for these individuals as long as it is reasonably related to the patient’s medical need. Prop 215 does not grant immunity from arrest, but it does provide an affirmative defense to charges of unlawful cultivation or possession of marijuana.