New California Marijuana Laws (and What You Need to Know About Them)

After years of will-they-or-won’t-they flirtation, California voters finally legitimized their affection for marijuana when they voted to pass Measure 64, effectively legalizing recreational cannabis use for adults. But while cannabis ingestion is now technically legal throughout California, there are new laws surrounding the substance that may not be widely understood, and disobeying these laws can carry consequences far greater than other legal activities. By knowing how these laws have changed, you can be best equipped to follow them while enjoy that joint.

So How Do I Get Weed?

While cannabis has been medically obtainable (and decriminalized) in California for some time, the passing of Proposition 64 -  otherwise known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act - has left California in a bit of a hazy, gray-area regarding the sales of the plant. While medical patients are still able to use their prescription to procure cannabis, dispensaries are not permitted to sell cannabis to the general public until January of 2018, meaning while weed is legal to possess and transport (up to one ounce), it’s not legal for just anyone to buy it. This leaves you with a couple of options:

If you aren’t a medical cannabis patient but know someone who is, you’re in luck; it’s now possible for a medical patient to gift up to one ounce of dried plant (or eight grams of concentrated cannabis) to anyone 21 years and older. Similarly, anyone (over 21!) is permitted to possess and transport said amount.

If you don’t know anyone with a medical prescription, however, you may have to get your weed the old-fashioned way: by growing it yourself. Under the new laws, anyone over 21 years old can grow up to six plants - either indoors or outdoors (but check with your local government and be sure you aren’t near a school or church, either). While it may be an obstacle in itself to obtain seeds, now might be the best time to test out your green thumb.

How Does This Affect My Medical Prescription?

If you’re already a medical marijuana patient, not much has changed - at least as far as 2017 goes. In fact, the rights given to you through your prescription will not be imposed on at all by any of the new laws passed, meaning you’ll still be protected by Doctor-Patient confidentiality as cannabis still qualifies as medicine. You can still use your prescription to procure weed and legally transport up to eight (8) ounces of dried flower, and when retail marijuana shops do eventually open to the public in 2018, your prescription will exempt you from the taxes imposed on the plant (meaning more green in your pocket - take that how you will).

What’s Still Not Allowed

Despite weed being legal, it’s not completely black and white. Any business or employer can prohibit the use of marijuana by their employees. And while you are allowed to grow your own plants under the new law, it’s illegal to make your own cannabis concentrate unless you’re licensed by the state. More importantly (and mostly misunderstood), it still is against the law to smoke outside in any public or nonsmoking areas. Additionally, you’re not allowed under any means to drive under the effects of cannabis - whether that be smoking while driving a vehicle or smoking as a passenger while the vehicle is in use (as that would fall under the “Open Container” laws not dissimilar to alcohol). While the California Highway Patrol and Sheriff’s Department currently don’t have a mainstream method of testing drivers on-site whether they’re under the effects of marijuana, authorities are finding new ways to crack down on drivers under the influence. Plainly stated, it still boils down to the officer’s word verses yours, so play it safe and refrain from driving if you find yourself partaking in the use of cannabis.  

Be In The Know

The most important thing, though, is to be aware and remain up to date on the laws as they may alter slightly. It’s reasonable to expect some time for these laws to be ironed out considering the history of Proposition 215 (one that first made medical cannabis legal in California). While it was passed in 1996, it wasn’t until 2015 that the laws and regulations for the plant were put into full effect, and it was up to each medical patient to stay current with whatever changes might occur. Don’t be that person who say’s they “didn’t know” - be the example for what a cannabis user is and can be, and don’t forget to enjoy responsibly.