What are Prop 64 and Prop 215 in California?

In California, Prop 64 maintains the concept of medical marijuana but subjects medical marijuana users to new taxes: a 15% state tax. It allows people to pay $100/yr. for a state-registered medical marijuana card that exempts a person from this tax. However, it also allows counties and cities to levy additional taxes on marijuana, and those governments don’t have to exempt medical marijuana sales from taxation.


Both propositions are California ballot initiatives designed to address Cannabis – the connections pretty much end there.

Generally, Prop. 215 was a measure passed in 1996 to allow qualified medical patients the right to cultivate and possess marijuana. The measure was broadened in 2004 to allow medical patients the right to form and join “collectives,” which today are more commonly seen as dispensaries. Most recently, the California legislature, with the input of industry, has passed laws to eventually replace the patient collective system and maintain a state licensed medical cannabis system (Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act – MCRSA). Patients under MCRSA will have explicit state recognition and protections. MCRSA still requires local approval for operators.

Prop 64, however, is an entirely different measure intended to tax and regulate the recreational (non-medical) use of Cannabis. Generally, this means that Cannabis would be available for purchase at licensed dispensaries for anyone 21 and older. Like MCRSA, local governments would still be able to restrict operations under Prop 64, but they would not be allowed to receive any of the tax revenue/grants from Prop 64 if they chose to do so. This is more akin to regulating certain sales of Cannabis like alcohol.

Prop 64 would not eliminate Medical Cannabis in CA and tax distinctions would still exist. For example, Prop 64 explicitly excludes the sales and use tax from medical cannabis.


These are 2 separate bills re: marijuana in California. Prop 215 aka the Compassionate Care Act relates to medicinal marijuana whereas Prop 64 relates to recreational marijuana. It does not change or negate Prop 215 and medical patients rights are still intact. I encourage you to check out this video on our website re: this. https://www.hellomd.com/answers/5817cc797d130e00074007c7/what-will-happen-to-proposition-215-if-proposition-64-passes-the-ballot

I hope that helps!


To add to @melissa’s answer, here’s the transcript for the video that she links to, addressing your question. Our Chief Medical Officer Perry Solomon, M.D. and our Co-founder Pamela Hadfield break down Prop 64 and Prop 215, and how they’re related:

Pamela Hadfield: So Perry, if Prop 64 passes, what is actually going to happen to Prop 215, which is commonly known as The Compassionate Care Act?

Dr. Perry Solomon: Well, it was passed over 20 years ago, and essentially Prop 64 does not negate or change anything in Prop 215. The rights that you had to use medical cannabis, to grow medical cannabis, depending on where you live remain intact. There are certain things that are added to Prop 215 that you’ll have to do, but in essence Prop 215 does not change your medicinal cannabis rights, of being able to obtain it and to possess it and to grow it in the appropriate conditions.

PH: That’s great. And so it sounds to me like Prop 64 is actually a layer on top of Prop 215. And Prop 64 is about legalizing cannabis recreationally, taxation control and regulation. Nothing else changes around the rights of the patient.

PS: Well, I like to look at it as, it’s not on top of. They’re two separate bills, they’re two separate propositions that exist independently and only intersect in one or two or three separate areas. Prop 215 was for medicinal; Prop 64 is for recreational.

PH: That’s great. Well, that’s the answer.

Hope this helps!


The only real connection that Prop 215 and Prop 64 share is that they address cannabis.

Prop 215, otherwise known as the Compassionate Use Act, addresses medical cannabis. It allows patients, and defined caregivers, the ability to posses and cultivate cannabis medicinally.

Prop 64, on the other hand, address the recreational use of cannabis. It legalizes the use of cannabis under state law for those 21 and older. It allows local regulation and taxation on cannabis, and even authorizes the resentencing and destruction of records for prior cannabis convictions.

As mentioned before, Prop 64 does not negate Prop 215. Medical patients are still protected under Prop 215, and even qualify for a tax break when purchasing medicine. Although, you must register your medical recommendation with your local county in order to reap the tax benefits.


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