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Exactly How Legal Is Medical Marijuana?

Dispensary owner Don says he wants his patients to be  informed advocates for medical marijuana until  the day "federal law is harmonized with state law."
Jolie Myers/NPR
Dispensary owner Don says he wants his patients to be informed advocates for medical marijuana until the day "federal law is harmonized with state law."

In Los Angeles, billboards displaying gigantic pot leaves are fairly common roadside attractions. There are an estimated 200 medical marijuana facilities operating in Southern California. With a doctor's "recommendation," a patient can walk into any one of these and buy pot — legally.

But, California's medical marijuana law conflicts with federal law, which says the cultivation and sale of the drug is illegal. California already makes over $100 million a year from taxes paid by medical marijuana facilities. Marijuana advocates claim legalizing and taxing medical marijuana could provide hundreds of millions of dollars more for the U.S. government.

We take a journey through the dreams and realities of the industry as part of Day to Day's California Dreaming series. Comment here.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Madeleine Brand
Madeleine Brand is the host of NPR’s newest and fastest-growing daily show, Day to Day. She conducts interviews with newsmakers (Iraqi politicians, US senators), entertainment figures (Bernardo Bertolluci, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Ricky Gervais), and the everyday people affected by the news (an autoworker laid off at GM, a mother whose son was killed in Iraq).