How Many Plants Can a Patient Grow?
Permissible Amount of Plants For Use By Non-Patients Over 21
As of November 8th, 2016, as a result of the passage of Prop 64, Adult Use of Marijuana Act, adults over 21 can grow up to 6 live plants for their personal use. These plants can be grow in residence, however outdoor and greenhouses are subject to local regulation by the city and counties. Cities and counties have the right to control land use to the extent that they can ban dispensaries, business licensing, and cultivation, as well as impose civil fines and up to 6-months in jail. However, non compliance with local ordinances is a not a bar for a collective cannabis defense under state law. (See People V. Ahmed* First Appellate District, Division Three Case Number: A149066) (June 20th, 2018) (Also See 11362.775 H&S) . However, Prop 215, Compassionate Use Act, will remain in effect and allow patients and their caregivers to grow amounts that are reasonably necessary for their current medical needs.
Permissible Amount of Plants For and By Patients
Under the protections afforded by SB 420, a patient could have six mature (flowering buds) or twelve immature plants. When prosecuted in court proceedings, as there is no limit specified in CUA Prop215 to the number of plants a patient (or their caregiver) may have; however, the amounts must be reasonably necessary for the patient’s current medical needs. (See People v. Kelly (2010) ). Additionally, a doctor’s letter alone does not have to be accepted by the police; therefore, it is recommended to have a county health department issued patient or caregiver identification card to help avoid being arrested, subject to criminal liability and having your plants confiscated. There must also be no evidence of sales made from the cultivation.
Defense Note From Bruce:
The still current U.S. Federal Program when defending against prosecution, is still providing 7 remaining patients with about 6 pounds per year (See Internet, Patient Robert Randell 1948-2001). A large number of plants are needed to cultivate that amount of bud, especially if it is an outdoor grow, since it is limited to one crop annually.
Pursuant to Proposition 215 (Compassionate Use Act of 1996) there still are no limits indicated to how many plants or how much marijuana a patient may possess or cultivate. In court proceedings (where a patient is prosecuted), the quantitative limitations (8 ounces, 6-12 plants) of SB 420 limits are not applicable as it has been ruled a violation of protections of Prop. 215. Patients may possess or cultivate any amount that is consistent with their current medical needs. See People v. Kelly (2010) under “Landmark Cases.” Subject to local city and county regulations.
A doctor’s evaluation of the patient’s medical needs could be the most helpful evidence. Some doctors have been providing 99 plant recommendations. However, in my opinion, the 99-plant recommendation in and of itself is not enough to establish a effective defense. Therefore, it is important to make sure when you discuss your use and medical needs that your doctor be available to testify the amount of marijuana you need for the your medical needs.
Regarding Defense In Court:
The 1992 DEA Cannabis Yields study concluded that the weight of dried, manicured, medical grade bud from a growing plant only provides for 7-10% of the plant’s total weight while being cultivated.
Defense cannabis expert testimonies may explain the factors involved in growing and harvesting medical marijuana in order to help the judge or jury determine whether the number of plants seized was reasonably required to meet the then-current medical needs of the patient.
See more information about my course at National Institute of Court Qualified Cannabis Experts in the “Patient Collectives and Cooperatives” section in my guide.
Cannabis experts use some of the following factors in their opinions to determine whether the amounts are reasonably necessary:
- The expected yield of medical-grade marijuana buds from the plants in question
- Whether the grow is indoors or outdoors. Outdoor grows can only be harvested once a year, whereas in door grows may yield less per crop, but may yield two to three harvests each year
- How the patient ingests or uses marijuana. For example, patients who eat marijuana may need to consume up to four times the amount to get the same medicinal ef fects as the patients who smoke it
- Whether the patient has built up a tolerance due to pri or use of marijuana, pharmaceutical or street drug use. Such patients may require higher dosages of medical marijuana in order for it to be effective
- The effect of weather, insects and other natural vari ables that affect yields
- How much medicine a patient must set aside for his or her reasonably expected needs
*For further information regarding People V. Ahmed First Appellate District, Division Three Case Number: A149066) (June 20th, 2018) contact my fellow CalNORML board member; the appellate lawyer Bill Panzer (510) 834-1892