The passage of Proposition 215 is considered a significant victory for medical marijuana. It exempts patients and defined caregivers who possess or cultivate marijuana for medical treatment recommended by a physician from criminal laws which otherwise prohibit possession or cultivation of marijuana. Because of Proposition 215, California is one of the fourteen states that allow marijuana for medical uses.
In 2008, twelve years after Proposition 215 passed, the medical marijuana group “Americans for Safe Access” estimated that California had more than 200,000 doctor-qualified medical cannabis users.
In May 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a California state appellate ruling from 2008 that upheld Proposition 215 and concluded that California can decide whether to eliminate its own criminal penalties for medical marijuana regardless of federal law. The appellate ruling came about because of lawsuit against Proposition 215 filed by San Diego and San Bernardino counties. These counties objected to Proposition 215 on the grounds that it requires them, in their view, to condone drug use that is illegal under federal law. They also challenged a law that requires counties to issue identification cards to medical marijuana patients so these patients can identify themselves to law enforcement officials as legally entitled to possess small amounts of marijuana.
Proposition 215 also led to the lawsuit, People v. Kelly. This case was decided in January 2010 by the California Supreme Court, which ruled that the state of California cannot, through the legislative process, impose a state limit on medical marijuana that is more restrictive than what is allowed under Proposition 215. People v. Kelly helps define laws governing the initiative process in California especially as it relates to legislative tampering.