Cannabis is Legal in California— Now What?
What You Need to Know
Updated: March 10, 2017
Buying & Possessing
The passage of Prop 64 makes it legal for people 21 and older to purchase, possess, and transport up to a 1 ounce of marijuana or up to 8 grams of marijuana concentrate. However, state licenses for new recreational marijuana businesses will not be issued until January 1, 2018, meaning most consumers may not able to legally purchase cannabis products before then. In the meantime, don't expect to be able to buy cannabis medical marijuana dispensary - you'll still need a medical card for that.
It is legal, however, for those with medical cards to share their cannabis with non-cardholders - so long as no compensation is exchanged (i.e. there's no "sale"). So if you have any generous friends willing to share their bud - relax and enjoy!
MMJ cardholders - don't go selling your extra weed! There are still penalties for the unlicensed sale of marijuana under Prop 64 - up to 6 months in jail, fines up to $500, or both. Oh, and selling to minors is still a felony that'll get you 3-7 years.
Smoking and vaping marijuana or ingesting marijuana products (e.g. edibles) is still not legal in public places, including anywhere tobacco smoke is prohibited or within 1,000 feet of schools while children are present. You'll get a $100 ticket for smoking in public and a $250 ticket for smoking marijuana where tobacco smoking is prohibited.
One notable caveat: you can use marijuana at your private residence even if you live within 1,000 feet of a school or daycare so long as your smoking is not detectable by other people who are on school grounds while children are present. Enforcing this may come down to whether the law enforcement officer responding to a call can smell the odor.
Transporting & Driving
Marijuana in vehicles will be regulated much like alcohol is. Driving while impaired by marijuana will constitute a DUI. How marijuana “intoxication” will be detected by law enforcement remains to be seen, as there is currently no reliable way to detect recent marijuana use (i.e. within hours). For now, law enforcement will likely rely on behavioral cues and their sense of smell until a more scientifically accurate method equivalent to an alcohol breathalyzer is available.
It’s also illegal to have “open containers” of marijuana while driving or riding as a passenger in a motor vehicle. It’s unclear what this will mean in terms of vape pens or open but re-sealed bags of cannabis products. It’s also illegal to have open containers in any “compartment” of a motor vehicle. Again, it's unclear whether this will apply to items in the trunk/out of the reach of the driver and/or passengers.
Under Prop 64 adults 21 and older may now grow up to 6 living plants at their private residence without a medical card or license. So if you're gifted some seeds or plants from a friend with a medical card, you're good to grow! Under Prop 64, growing at your residence is legal indoor or outdoor. Any plants or produced marijuana must be in a locked space and not visible by “normal unaided vision" (we'll explore what this means in another post).
Be aware that your local government can still ban outdoor grows, so you'll need to see how things shake out in your city or county. However, local governments cannot prohibit 21+ possession, indoor growth at your private residence, or transporting marijuana even if they do impose a recreational marijuana business ban.
Employment Drug Tests
One misconception about Prop 64 is that employers can't fire or refuse to hire based on marijuana showing up in a drug test. This is FALSE! Under both Prop 64 and MMRSA, employers still have the legal right to deny employment based on a positive drug test - even if you have a medical card. But note that drug tests test only for THC and not CBD (the non-psychoactive component in cannabis).
Currently, urine drug tests can detect marijuana use up to 10 to 30 (or even 60) days after the last use — depending on the frequency of use, body chemistry and a number of other factors. Be aware: higher THC content may also contribute to marijuana detection in urine for longer periods of time. Saliva drug tests can detect marijuana use as recently as 4-6 hours and up to 12-24 hours after use. Keep this in mind if you think you may be drug tested by a current or potential employer!
Have questions that weren't answered here? Ask me anything in a comment!