California Attorney General Issues State Guidelines for Medical Marijuana

On Aug. 25, 2008, California Attorney General Jerry Brown issued guidelines for law enforcement and medical marijuana patients to clarify the state's laws. The non-binding 11-page document is titled "Guidelines for the Security and Non-diversion of Marijuana Grown for Medical Use." (PDF 55 KB)

The document states that cannabis cooperatives and collectives should operate as non-profit organizations, verify that members are qualified patients and maintain membership records and applications.

Brown also states that officers should verify the information on the state identification cards, but if no card is presented and the officer doubts the validity of the medical marijuana claim, then the suspect may be arrested and will have to prove his or her medical claim in court.


Pro and Con Reactions to the California Attorney General's "Guidelines for the Security and Non-diversion of Marijuana Grown for Medical Use"

Pro Guidelines

Con Guidelines

Jerry Brown, JD, California Attorney General, in an Aug. 25, 2008 press release issued by the Office of the Attorney General, stated:

"California voters approved an initiative legalizing medical marijuana, not street drugs. Marijuana intended for medicinal use should not be sold to non-patients or on illicit markets. These guidelines will help law enforcement agencies perform their duties in accordance with California law and help patients understand their rights under Proposition 215."

Aug. 25, 2008 Jerry Brown


Americans for Safe Access, through its attorney Joe Elford, JD, in an Aug. 25, 2008 press release issued by the Office of the Attorney General, stated:
"We welcome the Attorney General's leadership and expect that compliance with these guidelines will result in fewer unnecessary arrests, citations and seizures of medicine from qualified patients and their primary caregivers. No one benefits from confusion over the law. These guidelines will help patients and law enforcement better understand California's medical marijuana laws."

Aug. 25, 2008 Americans for Safe Access

Jerry Dyer, Fresno Chief of Police and President of the California Police Chief's Association, in an Aug. 25, 2008 press release issued by the Office of the Attorney General, stated:

"Since Proposition 215 was passed, the laws surrounding the use, possession and distribution of medical marijuana became confusing at best. These newly established guidelines are an essential tool for law enforcement and provide the parameters needed for consistent statewide regulation and enforcement."

Aug. 25, 2008 Jerry Dyer

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, through its spokeswoman Arden Wiltshire, stated in an Aug. 26, 2008 article titled "Pot Dispute Still Unresolved," published in the Redlands Daily Fact:

"We still think the recommendation is in direct conflict with federal law. Our sheriffs believe federal law supersedes state law."

Aug. 26, 2008 San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department

Bruce Mirken, Communications Director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), in an Aug. 26, 2008 article titled "California Attorney General Issues Medical Marijuana Guidelines," published in the Los Angeles Times, responded to the guideline that specifies collectives and cooperatives should be run as non-profit organizations:

"The last I heard, Walgreens isn't a charity."

Aug. 26, 2008 Bruce Mirken


The US Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, through its spokesman Thom Mrozek, stated in an Aug. 27, 2008 article titled "CannaHelp Trying to Open New Shop," published in the Desert Sun:

"It's our understanding that they [the guidelines] place some restrictions on the dispensaries which have sprouted up like mushrooms in recent years, (but) that doesn't change the position of the federal government that there is no such thing as medical marijuana."

Aug. 27, 2008 US Attorney's Office in Los Angeles

For more information about California's medical marijuana laws, please visit our State Medical Marijuana Laws page.