The Ultimate Consumer Guide To California Cannabis Law

It’s official! Cannabis became legal in Cali this month, but that DOESN’T mean the entire golden state is 420-friendly for everyone. When you actually go through the language of the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, you’ll see that the law isn’t exactly chill. In fact, some new regulations might leave you a bit dazed and confused. For one thing, the federal government still considers it illegal to possess, use, and sell pot. Plus there are restrictions by age, location and activity. Confusing much?

So what does the new law really mean for young Californians? Youth Radio breaks down the laws so you’re in the know.   

Q: Who Can Have Cannabis? 

Simple answer: It depends on how old you are.

  • If you are 21 or older, you can buy, use, carry, and grow cannabis (aka weed, marijuana, ganja).
  • If you are between 18 and 20, you can only buy cannabis using a physician recommendation or medical marijuana card.


Q: Where Can You Legally Buy Cannabis?

Simple answer: Don’t just call your dealer

  • You can only buy cannabis at dispensaries and delivery services licensed by the California Bureau of Cannabis Control. If they don’t have their adult-use license yet, the dispensary won’t let you in.


Q: How Much Can You Have On You?

Simple answer: Let’s just say a little goes a long way

  • You can buy and possess up to one ounce of cannabis and up to 8 grams of concentrated cannabis (shatter, wax, hash, etc).
  • Careful carrying while driving. Police can pull you over and conduct a sobriety test if they suspect you of being under the influence of cannabis while operating a vehicle. If you are driving with cannabis, keep it in the original container you bought it in. Otherwise, keep it in the trunk.


Q: Where Can You Use Cannabis products?

Simple answer: Just stay inside for this one.

  • It is illegal to use cannabis in public (including national parks) so no smoking, vaping, or eating edibles as you’re walking around outside. Sorry, every music festival ever…
  • You can use cannabis on private property, but property owners have the right to ban it. And if you’re signing a lease, check the fine print to see if your landlord has designated your place a smoke-free zone.
  • Your boss can prohibit the use of cannabis even outside the workplace, so be sure to know your employer’s policies before you’re surprised by a mandatory drug test.
  • Thinking about a little interstate pot tourism? Skip the souvenirs. It is illegal to take your cannabis to another state, even if cannabis is legal in that state.
  • Before using cannabis, look around! You cannot use it within 1,000 feet of a school, day care center, or youth center while kids are present.


Q: Where can you Grow It?

Simple answer: Private spaces in most (but not all) places

  • If you are over 21, you can plant, cultivate, harvest, dry, and process as many as six plants in your private home or on its grounds.
  • But forget that cute backyard garden you wanted — If you are growing without a cultivation license, the plants must be in a locked space that the public can’t see.
  • Even within California, some cities and counties, like Saratoga, still prohibit the outdoor cultivation of cannabis altogether, so be sure to know the rules in your city.


Q: Who Can Sell It?

Simple answer: Probably not your regular dealer…

  • To sell cannabis legally, you have to be 21 or older and have a license from the California Bureau of Cannabis Control.
  • The cost for each license is different depending on the city you’re in. For example, in Oakland, the fee to apply for a license is about $2,500, according to local cannabis policy advocate, Richard Ng. In LA, licensing fees range from $8,059 to $11,806.
  • Into gift-giving? If you’re at least 21, it’s legal to give away up to one ounce of cannabis and up to eight grams of concentrated cannabis to someone 21 or older. But it’s against the law to accept money or compensation of any kind.


Q: Let’s talk legal consequences…

Simple answer: Breaking the laws can cost you

  • It’s too early to tell, but legalizing recreational weed may result in STRICTER enforcement of narc rules.
  • Local law enforcement could decide to crack down on new guidelines re: who/what/where people consume, and the Federal government has already signaled they may crack down on stuff your state says is legal.
  • Violating any of these new rules could result in fines, drug education, or jail time depending on the circumstances.

SOURCES: Youth and CannabisLet’s Talk Cannabis, What’s Legal for Adults

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