April 10, 2018

What’s better than legal weed? Free legal weed. Previously, with patient appreciation days, free product samples and a joint with purchase, there seemed to be so many different ways to get a bigger bang for your buck. These days, legal free weed is harder to come by as California laws put the kibosh on free cannabis goods to anyone except those medical patients with state ID cards.


Under California law, retailers are no longer allowed to give out free cannabis or cannabis goods to their store visitors. The law even puts an end to retailers allowing others (not shop personnel) to give out free cannabis goods at their shop. That means shops, vendors and product brands can no longer shower dispensary comers with samples and goodies – leaving patient appreciation days a little less appreciative. But not so fast, a further reading into the law provides for a little bit of leeway on the subject.

Medical Patients with State ID Cards Still Enjoy Freebies

Amongst the many benefits (like lower taxes) that Medical Patients still enjoy, gifted weed is one of them. The law carves out an exception for medicinal cannabis patients or primary caregivers, by allowing retailers to provide them free medical cannabis goods. However, this is conditioned on a slue of criteria that must be met.

One of the most important requirements is that the patient or caregiver be in possession of a valid identification card issued by the Department of Health and Safety. As opposed to a doctor’s recommendation (a certificate from a doctor recommending the use of medical marijuana), a state-issued card is an identification card granted by the state allowing medical cannabis patients with qualifying medical illnesses to possess, grow, and transport marijuana within the state. While both a doctors’ recommendation and a state issued ID are equally valid and allow for access to medical cannabis, a state-issued card may offer more legal protection to patients and in this case, the ability to receive free cannabis.

To apply for your State ID card, visit  https://www.cdph.ca.gov/CDPH%20Document%20Library/ControlledForms/cdph9042.pdf

In addition to the requirement of a state issued ID, cannabis businesses have to comply with certain requirements in order to be able to give out free cannabis. Specifically, all cannabis freebies must always be entered into the track and trace system and be properly lab-tested or have a warning label stating that good wasn’t tested. The track and trace requirement does not take effect until July 1, 2018 due to the transition period that the state has created to allow businesses some time to comply. The same goes for the required testing – all cannabis goods with warning labels are only compliant until the end of the transition period, July 1, 2018, thereafter all cannabis goods must be lab tested without exception.

Free Cannabis Cannot Exceed 8 oz. or Daily Limits

Even if a patient or caregiver meets the above requirements to receive a gift of weed, the state has put limits on these freebies. The catch – Any gift of cannabis received by a patient has to be applied toward the daily limit purchased by a medicinal cannabis customer. Under California law, retailers cannot sell more than 8 ounces in a single day to one patient unless they have a written recommendation that contains a different amount. Thus, any cannabis goods given to patients will be calculated as part of the 8 ounces patients are allowed to procure at once.

Local Compassionate Programs Allowed for Gifting Cannabis

Despite the restrictions on gifting free weed, California has carved out an exception for local jurisdictions that may want to allow for some freebies. California law states that a licensee can donate cannabis, cannabis goods and the use of equipment in connection with any local program or ordinance that allows for gifting of cannabis in the name of compassionate use, equality, or other similar programs. If you are a business owner, make sure to check with your local laws before gifting cannabis.

Organize in your local community to make sure compassionate care is available for those in need!

Contact one of our cannabis law firm specialists today by phone at 310-912-2960 or online.

Disclaimer: This article has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice.

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