California Marijuana Laws Explained
The first state to legalize marijuana for medical use was California. In 1996, voters passed the Compassionate Use Act, and over the past two decades, it has seen a lot of changes and structure within its cannabis laws. In 2016, voters finally got the Adult Use of Marijuana Act passed for recreational cannabis. California Marijuana rules and regulations have a significant influence on how other states regulate and control cannabis for their medical and recreational sales. They have set the stage for what is now a multi-billion dollar industry and something that voters in the United States say was long overdue. Here are the current California marijuana laws: Valid State Identification Anyone with a valid ID that proves they are 21 or older, can buy cannabis at licensed shops as easy as buying liquor at a store. What this means, a doctor’s recommendation for medical cannabis will not be required in order to purchase cannabis. Consumers can buy up to one ounce of cannabis, and buying it with an out-of-state license is legal and accepted at all cannabis stores. Quality Control Standards All cannabis products sold in California has to be tested for purity, molds, pesticides, and other contaminants. They are also tested for potency as well as having labels that state the level of CBD, THC, and other active compounds. The state has also placed limits on how much THC/CBD can be in some cannabis products. Public Consumption The state law says that no one can legally consume cannabis in public areas, including public smoking areas designated for cigarettes. It’s illegal to smoke cannabis in bars, parks or on the streets. If you’re caught smoking cannabis in public areas, a fine of $100 to $250 will be imposed. It’s legal to smoke cannabis on private property or in a residence; however, a few cities have cannabis lounges where you can relax and smoke. Driving With Cannabis The same rules apply to driving with cannabis as it does with alcohol. It’s illegal to have an open container that is accessible when you’re driving in a vehicle. What this means, leave your cannabis in the sealed package from the store until you get home. Driving under the influence of cannabis is illegal; however, it’s a little harder for an officer to make an assumption of cannabis use, especially if they can’t smell it. State law makers are currently testing new technologies geared towards helping law enforcement officers arrest an impaired driver on the spot for being under the influence of cannabis. Right now, a blood test is required to confirm cannabis in your system in order to be charged for driving while intoxicated. Growing Residential Cannabis Starting back in November of 2016, every state resident who is 21 or older can grow up to six cannabis plants per household, providing they stay out public view. Some local cities do have some power over residential growing and restrictions. Some ban outdoor growing and require expensive permits for the indoor cultivation of cannabis. For cities without restrictions, Prop.64 states that all outdoor and indoor cannabis plants are to be grown in a fully enclosed structure. All living plants can not be in public view and must be in a locked space. All excess harvest weight over the one ounce limit per adult, also needs to be kept in the locked space. Job Testing for Cannabis Under Prop. 64, employers have the right to test employees for cannabis. They can fire existing employees or choose not to hire a candidate for positive results. The state requires some transportation employers and federal agencies to test for cannabis before the candidate can be hired. The laws also gives employers the freedom to hire a candidate who consumes cannabis where testing is no longer required; however, businesses can change their policy at any time. Buying Cannabis on the Black Market The state’s black market for cannabis have been topping the scales for years, and it doesn’t look like any of the illicit businesses are going anywhere soon. It’s illegal to purchase cannabis from any other source than a state licensed facility. Since the Adult Use Act of 2016, some cities are now cracking down on illegal and unlicensed cannabis businesses. Some cities are even setting aside a portion of taxes from legal cannabis sales to help law enforcement shut these illegal businesses down for good. How the Law Effects the Price The legalization of cannabis across the state saw a 15 percent increase in sales tax, and recreational cannabis is also subject to an additional eight percent. The initial expense of implementing the new regulations were passed on to the consumer, and some businesses were also allowed to tack on an additional 5 to 10 percent. The increase in price was only temporary as the market adjusted to the new rules and taxes. Wholesale prices are now 40 percent lower then they were in 2016. Medical Marijuana Patients Californians are not required to have a doctor’s recommendation to purchase cannabis, but there are some benefits of having one. Currently, patients with a card do not have to pay the eight percent sales tax. They have access to higher THC/CBD products like concentrates and topicals with a 2,000mg limit versus the 1,000mg limit on recreational products. Patients are also allowed to possess more than one ounce of cannabis for their condition and grow more than the six plants per household limit. With the legalization of recreational cannabis, more people are now considering if the advantages outweigh the time and cost it takes for a doctor’s recommendation. Requirements for Legal Cannabis Businesses Businesses who sell cannabis in any form to the public must have a posted copy of their permits in clear view of the public. State agencies are also responsible for overseeing all aspects and records of businesses to make sure they stay in compliance. The Bureau of Cannabis Control’s website discloses which businesses are a distributor, micro-business, testing lab or store. The new rules and regulations on recreational cannabis for Californians still needs some amendments as other states allow for more than the one ounce limit and six plants per person instead of per household. Until the rules change, this is how California looks heading into 2019.