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CBD in California: Where to Buy

Although California was one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana, what is the exact legality of CBD?

Here's everything you need to know about purchasing CBD in California, MMJ cards, and marijuana laws. 

CBD in California

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California has always been one of the most progressive states when it comes to marijuana laws. They were the first state to legalize medical marijuana use when they passed the Compassionate Use Act in 1996

Then, 20 years later, they passed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which legalized cannabis and CBD in California for recreational use.

Since the passing of these laws, it’s become increasingly easy to qualify for medical marijuana cards and find dispensaries for recreational use.

We’ve compiled everything you’ll need to know about CBD in California and how to navigate its usage and possession laws.

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Is CBD Legal in California? (Laws & Regulations)


CBD Legality




Yes, as long as you’re of age, it is legal to buy and use CBD in California for medicinal or recreational purposes.

You can purchase these items at various dispensaries, but you can find cannabidiol, or CBD, oil over-the-counter at certain retailers.

Interestingly, though CBD and cannabis are legal in California, there are strict laws in place when it comes to ingesting these items. The law prohibits using hemp-derived CBD in anything food or beverage related until the FDA declares it’s safe.

In 2018, legislation passed the Farm Bill in California, which added legal definitional distinction between hemp and marijuana—hemp contains less than 0.3% THC, which cannot get you high. It then categorizes marijuana as cannabis with over 0.3% THC.

After the Farm Bill’s passing, legislators introduced AB 228, which would have clarified CBD products’ legality and legalized things like hemp-derived foods, drinks, and cosmetic products with no restriction.

However, the bill was held and has not been brought up since.

California Laws

The manufacturing and sale of cannabis products is legal, including items with CBD oil cooked into it, commonly referred to as “edibles.” Industrial hemp cannot be the source of the CBD oil, however.

Additionally, CBD products are not a legally approved food, ingredient, additive, or dietary supplement. Until otherwise revised and reformed, California law will treat hemp-derived CBD and CBD oil the same way the FDA does.

California CBD Possession Limits

CBD in California currently has no possession limits when it comes to CBD oil. You can find a wide variety of CBD products in different retail stores or online.

However, because CBD’s manufacturing and sale is still largely unregulated, make sure you do your research beforehand and always buy from a reputable source.

Anyone the legal age of 21 and older can have up to 28.5 grams, or about an ounce, of cannabis on their person. If you’re carrying concentrated cannabis, you can have up to 8 grams, or about 0.28 ounces, in your possession.

Anyone under the legal age will get an infraction.

If you carry over the legal limit, you may end up in county jail for up to 6 months and/or get fined up to $500. There are also laws against ingesting cannabis in public and during the use of a motor vehicle.

If you have a doctor’s recommendation, and the cannabis is in a sealed container, that specific marijuana law won’t affect you.

How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in California

You can obtain CBD in California in two different ways. The first is the traditional method, which will take a little longer to process. They dub the second option the “modern” way, which is processed much faster but requires working knowledge of a computer.

The Traditional Way

To qualify for the traditional method of getting a medical marijuana card (MMJ), you must be at least 18 years of age. If you’re not, you need to have parent or guardian approval to even apply for an MMJ.

List of Steps

Step 1

You’ll have to schedule an appointment with a doctor, most likely your primary care physician, to determine if you’re eligible for an MMJ.

You may qualify for a medical marijuana card if you suffer from any number of these issues:

  • Arthritis
  • Anxiety
  • Glaucoma
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Migraine headaches
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)

Suppose you’re currently experiencing any side effects from radiation therapy or any persistent, chronic medical pain or symptom that inhibits your physical or mental health.

In that case, you could also be eligible for an MMJ in California.

Step 2

The next step is to provide proof of identification to prove your age. This can be a driver’s license, government-issued ID, or even a state-issued ID.

Only legal residents of the state of California can apply for an MMJ.

Step 3

Next, you’ll have to provide proof of residency in the state of California. This can be your DMV vehicle registration, a mortgage or rental agreement, or even a utility bill.

It just needs to show that you live in California permanently.

Step 4

Once you’ve received your doctor’s recommendation for an MMJ, you’ll need to complete this form. After doing so, you’ll have to apply in-person at your County Program to get your MMJ.

This process won’t be instant, though, and can take your county up to 30 days to verify your application. Not to mention up to 35 days for them to get your physical MMJ to you.

The Modern Way

The modern method of getting prescribed an MMJ involves a lot less waiting around and filing of paperwork, but you need to know how to use a computer and internet connection efficiently.

If you’re not technologically inclined, feel free to ask someone to assist you in completing this process.

List of Steps

Step 1

To jump start this process, you’ll need to register with an online evaluation center and enter some personal details to help the doctor get connected with you and figure out if an MMJ is right for you.

One clinic with glowing reviews is Heally, a place that helps many people get their MMJs quickly and easily.

In that case, you could also be eligible for an MMJ in California.

Step 2

After you’ve entered the preliminary information, you’ll wait in a virtual waiting room until you’re matched with a doctor.

From there, they will conduct your online evaluation and ask you a few more questions.

Step 3

If you qualify for an MMJ, you’ll receive your medical marijuana recommendation letter in two different formats: an immediate email; and a paper copy in around 3 days.

At the same time, you’ll get a unique 7-character ID code that’s registered in California’s medical marijuana program.

Step 4

Once you’ve got your email and unique code, you can purchase medical marijuana from any licensed dispensary in California as long as you show proof of residency, ID, and provide some basic medical information.

The modern process of getting approved for an MMJ is much more streamlined, and it’s even possible to register for and purchase medical marijuana on the same day.

The entire process can take as little as 10 minutes, and these services tend to be open 7 days a week.

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Finding Marijuana Dispensaries in California

Luckily, finding a marijuana dispensary is pretty easy in California. There are a variety of options, including stores that let you order online, do curbside pickup, or even deliver right to your door.

There are lots of different options for dispensaries, so it all depends on which one is closest to your location. Also, as we mentioned before, make sure you do your research on each one to make sure you’re selecting the right place.

Look at the reviews before buying anything to ensure you’re getting a quality product.

To get a better idea of where the best, closest dispensary is to you, check out this website. It’ll give you the name and service options of many different dispensaries, and then you can choose which one you’d like to purchase from.


Though the process of attaining an MMJ card and buying medical or recreational marijuana may seem straightforward, we know there are bound to be some lingering questions you have.

Here is a list of some other questions you may have after reading through this article.

How old do you have to be to buy CBD in California?

You must be 21 to purchase CBD in California if it’s for recreational use. Those 18 and older with a valid MMJ can also purchase CBD from a dispensary as long as they have the assistance of a caregiver.

How much cannabis can I grow at home?

If you’re a recreational user of CBD in California, you can grow up to six plants at home. Those who use it for medicinal purposes can grow up to 12 immature plants in their home. However, with a doctor’s recommendation, those with an MMJ can actually grow more than that.

Overall, the amount of medical marijuana a person can possess, or even grow, depends on where they live. For example, in San Francisco, you can grow a maximum of 24 plants and possess up to 8 ounces.

Where can I use my marijuana?

You can only use your marijuana in private places. Public smoking of cannabis is prohibited, but some cities like San Francisco offer onsite public consumption licenses. However, if you’re caught smoking or vaping cannabis in a non-smoking area, you can be fined $100.

Using medical marijuana in a vehicle, even as a passenger, is illegal. An open marijuana container of any kind on a boat or plane results in a $250 fine. Operating a bicycle while under the influence is illegal, and smoking within 1000-feet of a school or in the presence of children/youth is not allowed.

How can I obtain a grow license in California?

There are many different types of growing licenses when it comes to CBD in California, but the current registration fee for commercial purposes is $900 per year.

When labeling cannabis products, you must take care to note the origin, expiration, ingredients, and amount of THC and CBD in your product.

Grow licenses do not only have to be for commercial use, but anyone looking to grow and sell industrial hemp absolutely has to register with the commissioner of agriculture prior to even beginning to grow any cannabis. You can apply here if you’re looking to commercialize your cannabis plants.

Next Steps

As you can see, California makes it easy to obtain and use an MMJ. However, it’s also easy for those over 21 to purchase and enjoy recreational marijuana as well.

If you’re in accordance with California’s rules concerning cannabis, it’s easy to use and enjoy medicinally or otherwise. If you feel you qualify for an MMJ, be sure to visit the links we provided so you can get relief fast.

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About the author 

Justin Powell

Justin Powell founded Hemp For Future to give direct answers to many of the questions surrounding THC, CBD, and everything in between. He’s been at the forefront of CBD advocacy for years, and as the go-to guru for many people, he decided to pour all his knowledge into Hemp For Future. He’s here to tell you about the best CBD gummies, how to stay under the legal THC allowance, and the core differences between commercial and in-home marijuana growth.

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