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.