How does Prop 64 affect Prop 215 Patients?
Hey Prop 215 Patients:
you weren’t left out under Prop 64!
As you may know by now, Prop 64 does not alter yours rights under the Compassionate Use Act (Prop 215). In fact, it was designed to give you some added protections under the law. Here are the highlights:
local government cannot interfere with your right to grow at home
Unfortunately, the rights of patients to grow their own marijuana at home has come under attack in some cities and counties in California. Prop 64 eliminates the right of local government to ban patients from cultivating at home - whether indoors or in an enclosed structure on your property.
However, local governments can still ban "open" outdoor grows - just as they can with recreational-use growers.
AVOID PAYING SALES TAX
Prop 64 requires consumers to pay excise and sales taxes on purchased cannabis products. I know, I know, nobody likes taxes. But, as of November 9, 2016, patients are exempt from paying sales tax on qualified cannabis products. And while you'd still have to pay to get a new ID card (as with Prop 215), the fee is capped at $100.
Your personal information is safeguarded
Bear with me, because this is one of the expanded protections that I'm most excited about for patients. While SB 420 (the law implementing Prop 215) requires patient information confidentiality, it is not very specific about how private information must be protected.
New legislation will require all cities and counties to identify patients using only unique user identification numbers rather than by name, address or social security number. Additionally, any databases containing private patient information (including identifiers) are now protected under the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act.
Why is this such a big deal? The CMIA is the essentially the equivalent of federal HIPAA (medical information privacy) laws and prevents the California Department of Health and county health departments from disclosing any private patient information except in restricted circumstances.
More good news: any agency that receives a request for the disclosure of your information must inform you of any such request within 24 hours and they have to wait 10 days before they can disclose any information. Even then, state and county health department databases will only contain a unique user identification number and the only information that can be provided is whether or not the ID card is valid. They absolutely cannot provide patient names, addresses, social security numbers, medical conditions, or even the names of primary caregivers.
POSSESS AS MUCH AS YOU NEED, JUST LIKE UNDER PROP 215
Under SB 420, there aren't any strict limits for how much marijuana patients are allowed to possess under the law. Rather, patients can have as much as they reasonably need for their own medical use.
That said, general guidelines allow patients to grow 6 mature or up to 12 immature marijuana plants, as opposed to the strict 6 plant limit for recreational users. Additionally, patients may possess up to a 1/2 lb (8 ounces) of dried marijuana, 8x more than the 1 ounce allowed for recreational users!
Again, guidelines for patients aren't strict. Very ill patients who obtain a physician's statement explaining a larger need may be exempted from the above guidelines . Also, cities and counties may place higher (but not lower) limits on these amounts. So if you're lucky enough to live in a place like Sonoma County you can legally possess up to 3 lbs of marijuana. You're welcome!
Protects parental rights
Many patients across California have been concerned about how their legal cultivation and use of marijuana may affect their custodial rights. If someone such as a neighbor or a child's teacher makes a report to Child Protective Services about the safety of your child, a social worker will be sent to your house to assess whether a court needs to get involved.
Under Prop 64, legal cultivation and use by a patient, cannot, by itself, be used to restrict a patient's custodial or parental rights. This is an important protection, and I'll be watching closely to see how this pans out in the enacting legislation. Americans for Safe Access provides some helpful "best practices" for parents here.
Funds for marijuana research
Lastly, thanks to Prop 64, the University of California Center for Medical Cannabis Research will receive at least $2 million each year for research on the effects of marijuana. Over the years, the Center has conducted impressive studies showing medical marijuana's effectiveness in providing "broad benefits for pain from nerve damage from injuries, HIV, strokes and other conditions."
The kicker for me: the money received from taxes on recreational marijuana revenue will go towards research including the development of marijuana sobriety tests, which is sorely needed.
And let's not forget, having your card allows you to continue legally buying marijuana from licensed dispensaries now, unlike recreational users who will have to wait until 2018 when licensed recreational retail stores can start operating!