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SB 420 Medical Marijuana Program Act

SENATE BILL 420 DRASTICALLY EXPANDED THE PROTECTIONS OF THE COMPASSIONATE USE ACT (PROP. 215).

This includes protecting qualified patients who collectively and cooperatively cultivate marijuana for medical purposes from criminal sanctions for possession for sale, etc. [11362.775 H&S] . Part of the legislative intent of SB 420 is to "facilitate the prompt identification of qualified patients and their designated primary caregivers in order to avoid unnecessary arrest and prosecution of these individuals and provide needed guidance to law enforcement officers." SB 420 also established the County Health ID card program.

A doctor's letter alone does not necessarily keep patients safe from arrest or prosecution. The police may accept or reject the letter and refer the case for prosecution. However, County Department health cards must be accepted.

SB 420 established "safe harbor" amounts -- quantities presumptively legal. A patient or caregiver may cultivate 6 mature or 12 immature plants per patient, and possess 8 ounces of dried cannabis (bud) per patient.

SB 420 does not in any way affect or limit the protections under Prop. 215 [CA H&S 11362.5].

SB 420 Protection from Arrest and Prosecution

SB420 Section 11362.765 H&S states that qualified patients (with or without ID cards), designated primary caregivers, or any individual who provides assistance to a qualified patient or a person with an ID card, or his or her designated primary caregiver, shall not be subject to criminal liability on that basis alone under the following sections of the Health & Safety Code:

  • 11357 [possession],
  • 11358 [cultivation],
  • 11359 [possession for sale],
  • 11360 [processing, transportation, distribution, importation and sales],
  • 11366 [maintaining a place for selling, giving or using],
  • 11366.5 [management of location for manufacture or storage], or
  • 11570 [having a place used for the purpose of unlawfully selling, serving, storing, keeping, manufacturing, or giving away any controlled substance].

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