MMIC - Legislative Background

Fresno County Department of Public Health

1221 Fulton Street, Office 128
Fresno, CA 93721
Phone: (559) 600-3421 Fax: (559) 600-7605
By Appointment Only: Every Wednesday 8:30 am - 3:30 pm


“The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (Act) (Health & Safety Code, section 11362.5) ensures that patients and their primary caregivers who possess or cultivate marijuana for the personal medical purposes of the patient upon the recommendation of a physician are not subject to California criminal prosecution or sanction. However, the Act does not protect marijuana plants from seizure or individuals form federal prosecution under the federal Controlled Substances Act. The information that you provided in your application may be released as required by law, judicial order, or subpoena, and could be used in a federal criminal prosecution.”



In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act. The Act made the medical use of marijuana legal in California. However, it did not provide an effective way for law enforcement to properly identify patients who were legally protected by the Act.

The intent of Senate Bill (SB) 420 was to assist law enforcement in identifying Californians who were protected by the Act and to provide patients and their caregivers with a form of identification that would protect them against wrongful arrest and prosecution.

SB 420 also required the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to establish and maintain a statewide medical marijuana identification card and registry program for qualified patients and their caregivers. As a result, the Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) was established by the CDPH in 2004. The MMP allows qualified patients to apply for rand receive Medical Marijuana Identification Cards (MMIC) for themselves and their primary caregiver through their county of residence.


Participation in the MMIC program is optional. Those persons choosing not to take advantage of the MMIC program may suffer inconvenience, but will not be denied the defense provided by Proposition 215.