How much marijuana am I allowed to grow under California Law?
There is actually no simple answer for this question. Currently, SB420 mandates that patients with a medical recommendation for marijuana in California are legally allowed to have 6 mature or 12 immature plants. You can also be licensed as a caregiver for up to 5 patients, which allows you up to 5 times the personal amount (depending on the number of individuals you are a caregiver for).
The problem with this is that most cities and counties now have ordinances that override the state law. In the case City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health & Wellness Center, Inc in 2013, the state ruled that cities have the power to ban or limit medical marijuana activities in their jurisdictions (1). As soon as this happened, almost every city quickly wrote an ordinance and approved it. Most cities in California now ban growing and any kind of dispensaries or deliveries. Therefore, it is important that you check your local ordinance before you get started growing marijuana. NORML maintains a list at http://www.canorml.org/medical-marijuana/local-growing-limits-in-california, but you should still ask your city and county before starting.
The other issue is that all of this is changing, now that the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) has been approved by Governor Jerry Brown. Under this new law, patients will be allowed to grow marijuana on up to 100 square feet of their property. Caregivers will be allowed to grow up to 500 square feet. Cities and counties will still be allowed to disregard the law, so it will remain important to check with local authorities before growing. This law goes into effect January 2016. In summary, the law is changing from specifying the maximum number of plants to specifying the maximum amount of space that can be devoted to a marijuana grow. Growing commercially is a different story, as there will be 10 categories of licenses available. For details on this, consult the MMRSA at https://mjbizdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Medical-Marijuana-Regulation-and-Safety-Act-Summary.pdf.
That’s not all! There is another factor that may change everything as well, and that is the prospect of California legalizing marijuana for recreational use. There are currently dozens of competing initiatives that may end up on the November 2016 ballot (2). Because we do not yet know what initiatives will make it to the ballot, we do not know exactly how legal growing restrictions may be affected.
It would appear to us that California is likely to legalize in 2016. Others are thinking the same thing. The Motley Fool recently put California number one on a list of three states most likely to legalize in 2016 (3). With the state enacting the complicated MMRSA, the regulation infrastructure will be set up to support it. It is unknown if the new initiative would nullify part or all of the MMRSA. Stay tuned to the High Note Legalization Blog as we track new developments and explore the implications.
The High Note Legalization Blog is produced by High Note Caregivers, a licensed cooperative in California, currently providing care and consultation to members in Redlands, Yucaipa, Calimesa, Loma Linda, and Moreno Valley. Visit us on:
(1) City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health & Wellness Center, http://harvardlawreview.org/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/vol127_city_of_riverside_v_inland_empire_patients.pdf
(2) Dozens of marijuana initiatives in California vying for 2016 ballot. Carlos Granda. 11/3/2015. http://abc7.com/news/dozens-of-marijuana-initiatives-in-ca-vying-for-2016-ballot/1066959/
(3) States that are most likely to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016. http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/11/08/3-states-that-are-most-likely-to-legalize-recreati.aspx