You’ve probably heard that the country – at least parts of it – are finally starting to change their tune when it comes to marijuana usage, whether it is medical or recreational. California voters approved Proposition 64 on November 8, 2016. This prop, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, had 57% of the voters approving of changes to the laws.
Those who are in California and who want to use marijuana need to know and understand these laws, so they do not get in trouble. Those who visit the state and who want to imbibe should also make sure they understand these laws and regulations as they stand right now.
Changes to the Law
The new law will now legalize the possession and use of marijuana up to an ounce, or eight grams of concentrates. In addition, for personal use, they can cultivate up to six plants for each residence, so long as those who are cultivating the plants are at least 21 years old.
In addition, the new law will reduce penalties for many crimes typically associated with the illegal marijuana trade. This includes penalty reduction for illegal cultivation, sale, transport, and possession for sale offenses from misdemeanors all the way up through felonies. However, there are possible exceptions for those who are repeat offenders, violent offenders, or when there are other aggravating circumstances. It can also allow prior offenders to file to have their prior criminal records changed to reflect the changes in the law. It essentially rewrites the criminal records to what they would have been if Prop 64 had been in place when they were arrested earlier.
The new law brought forth a licensed regulation system, which allows for the commercial production and the sale of “adult use cannabis”, which will start on January 1, 2018. Please keep in mind that the sales have to occur in licensed stores, and it is still illegal to simply grow and sell on your own. Agricultural production of hemp became legal on January 1, 2017 thanks to the passing of Prop 64.
The new prop also put a production tax of $9.25 per ounce of flowers onto marijuana, with an additional 15% excise tax on the retail sales for medical and adult recreational usage. This also begins on January 1, 2018. While nobody likes to pay high taxes on the products they buy, think about the tradeoff. Marijuana is finally legalized, and the taxes will hopefully to go help the state. For more people, this tax will be a small price to pay to smoke legally.
The prop has also exempted those who have state-issued ID cards for medical marijuana from the current 7.25% sales tax.
Where Can Marijuana Not Be Used?
While it is certainly exciting for many California residents that marijuana for recreational use will not be legal, they still must be smart about what they are doing. Just because it is legal does not mean that they can walk down the street with a bong in their hands! Prop 64 prohibits people from smoking or consuming marijuana while they are driving or while they are in any public place.
Also, there is to be no possession on school grounds, naturally, and possession of an open container of marijuana while driving is also punishable by law. It is a misdemeanor to illegally sell, manufacture, cultivate, transport or possess with the intent to sell. For three-time offenders, and under special circumstances, this could also be considered a felony under California state law.
The law also states that it is illegal to consume marijuana not only while driving a car, boat, or plane, but also if you are a passenger. If a minor is caught with marijuana, they will not face imprisonment. However, they will likely be punished and required to take drug education, and they may have to do community service.
One of the other interesting bits to note is that marijuana is still illegal under the federal laws. This means that Prop 64 will not apply on any federal property.
In addition, there are still rights of employers and landlords to consider when it comes to marijuana. For example, employers in California can still have drug free policies in place that include screenings for marijuana. It may be a good idea to look into the policies of the company where you work before you decide to use marijuana. Landlords also have the right to prohibit marijuana possession on the properties that they own. Always keep this in mind if you are renting.
Who Licenses the Stores?
As mentioned, marijuana will be for sale only in stores that are licensed. The regulations will be established by the Department of Marijuana Control, or the DMC, along with help from the local governments. The California Department of Food and Agriculture is the body that is responsible for regulating the cultivation for marijuana, while the Board of Equalization takes care of the tax collection and the Department of Public Health will be responsible for regulation of the manufacturing and the testing.
What Does This Mean for You?
If you are a resident of California, or if you will be visiting California and want to consume marijuana, you should keep all these regulations and laws in mind. Always err on the side of caution so you do not end up on the wrong side of the law. Keep in mind that the laws can change, as well, so you will want to keep up with the laws in California as it pertains to marijuana usage.
2018 will be an interesting year for California. Hopefully, things will go just as smoothly in the Golden State as it has in other areas around the country that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. It can truly help the economy of California, and it gives people more personal freedom to do what they want, whether it is to enjoy some edibles or smoke.