California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana use in 1996 via Proposition 215. It wasn’t until 2016, however, through Proposition 64, that recreational marijuana use became legal. Proposition 215 opened the proverbial door for the United States, and today, weed is legally available to most of the country.
Medical marijuana cardholders 18 and over and recreational marijuana users 21 and over can find state-approved dispensaries in major cities like Los Angeles. While it’s legal to use cannabis in The Golden State, how do the laws pertain to possession, use, and distribution in California? Is it legal to smoke weed in public? Can you share it with your friends? What about growing your own?
In the following information, we’ll explore the ins and outs of California cannabis laws because the more you know, the less likely you’ll find yourself on the wrong side of the law.
Cannabis is Still Federally Illegal
Although many states have legalized cannabis for medical and/or recreational use, it is still illegal on a federal level. The federal government isn’t as strict as it used to be with the marijuana industry but knowing how the laws affect you may help clear up any confusion and keep you from having to deal with federal authorities.
Cannabis Possession in California
Possession laws in California are strict. Get caught with more than legally allowed and you could face a fine of $100 or more. Here’s what you’re allowed to have in your possession at any given time.
- Adults 21 and over may have an ounce of flower OR up to 8 grams of cannabis concentrate.
- In California, adults over the age of 21 can purchase edibles containing up to 2800mg of THC.
You Can Share, but You Cannot Sell (without a license)
The law is very clear here. No one under the age of 21 can legally use marijuana, so avoid giving it to anyone Who’s underage. Feel free, however, to share it with all your legal adult friends.
It is not cool – nor legal – to sell your bud to anyone. The government wants to get paid, too! It is also illegal to start your own weed-selling business without obtaining the proper licensing and paying taxes to the powers that be.
Having said all that, it’s probably easier to just keep supporting your local California weed shop.
The Law as it Pertains to Growing Your Own Stash
California residents can grow up to six (6) marijuana plants on their property at any one time for personal use. The live plants and any marijuana produced from said plants in excess of 28.5 grams must be kept in or on the private residence. They must be kept in a locked area that is out of sight of any public place.
Strict cannabis laws limit the dosage amounts for medical marijuana users. With limits of no more than 10 milligrams per serving and no more than 100 milligrams per package, it’s difficult for patients who need higher doses of cannabis for treatment to legally possess the necessary amounts.
Through the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, however, patients can obtain, possess, grow, harvest, transport, and use marijuana to treat any illness in an amount that’s reasonable to their medical needs with a doctor’s recommendation. Medical marijuana ID cards can be obtained through the Medical Marijuana Program at the California Department of Public Health.
Pot Use in Public Places
In California and throughout the state of California, it’s illegal to use marijuana – in any form – in public. Anywhere that tobacco smoking is prohibited, smoking pot is also a no-no. Light up a joint in public and you could be slapped with a $250 fine. This includes vaping weed in public as well.
If you are caught smoking marijuana within 1000 feet of a daycare, school, or youth center, be prepared to pay a hefty fine of $250. You can smoke on your private property near a school, but the smoke better not be detectable by anyone on the school’s property.
Lastly, the law states that ingesting cannabis in public is also prohibited. This means eating the pot brownies you bought while lunching in the park is against the law, too.
Driving and Weed Use
As with alcohol use, there is a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to driving and weed use. In fact, California law states that a driver or passenger may not possess an open container or open package of marijuana or marijuana products while driving, operating, or riding in the passenger seat, compartment of a motor vehicle, boat, vessel, aircraft, or other vehicle used for transportation. If you break this law, you or your passenger could end up paying a $250 fine.
As for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of cannabis, the consequences are much more severe. While the jury is still out on a reliable way to test a driver’s level of intoxication from marijuana, if you are unlucky enough to get a DUI, your bank account will suffer to the tune of about $10,000 and you’ll lose many hours of your precious time in jail or community service. At this point, any amount of THC detected in your system is grounds for a DUI conviction.
Obviously, it is illegal to smoke or ingest marijuana in any form while operating a motor vehicle, boat, vessel, aircraft, or other vehicle designed for transportation. Being caught driving under the influence may even earn you a 10-month suspension of your driver’s license.
Using Marijuana at Public Events
In general, public marijuana use is prohibited by law. However, should an event obtain a temporary state license authorizing the sale and use of marijuana on its grounds to legal adults, public cannabis is allowed. Having said that, any pot use must still be out of sight of other public places surrounding the event.
More information on this subject is available in the Business and Professions Code Section 26200.
Your Responsibility as a Cannabis User
Since cannabis was legalized in 1996, the laws have changed a lot and they continue to do so to this day. As a cannabis user, it is your responsibility to stay up to date on the laws as they evolve to avoid run-ins with authorities. It’s important to stay safe, be smart, and enjoy your marijuana legally.
If, after reading this comprehensive guide, you still have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. We believe education is the key to your satisfaction and our success.