California Recreational Marijuana Laws

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With the dawn of legalized recreational marijuana in California finally upon us, it’s time to review the many laws and regulations that casual cannabis consumers should keep in mind as they stroll through the Golden State. While medical marijuana has been legal in California for more than two decades, the passing of Proposition 64 has resulted in a new set of laws that are specific to the recreational market and non-medical cannabis users. California natives and visitors should review these regulations in order to avoid unnecessary fines or possible arrest for the possession, use, or sale of cannabis. Let’s have a look at the laws governing the new recreational cannabis marketplace in California:

Possession

Recreational cannabis consumers age 21 and over are allowed to possess up to one ounce (28.5 grams) of marijuana without penalty. While California’s medical marijuana policy allows patients to be prescribed cannabis starting at age 18, recreational users must wait until they are 21 or over to possess pot without penalty. Adults age 18 and over that are caught with more than 28.5 grams of weed are subject to a fine of up to $500 and six months’ incarceration.

Possession of up to 8 grams of hash or concentrates is permitted by law, with penalties of up to $500 in fines and six months in jail time for those caught with more than 8 grams. Manufacturing hash or concentrates without attaining full license from the state of California can result in 16 months to 7 years of jail time.

Growing

California residents aged 21 and over are allowed to cultivate up to 6 cannabis plants in their home simultaneously, provided that they are kept out of public view. Medical patients can have 6 mature plants or 12 immature plants growing in their household. Seeds and marijuana can be purchased at local marijuana dispensaries like Greenlight Discount Pharmacy.

Public Use

Women in Bikinis Sharing Joint on the Beach
Photo by: Skroll Productions/Shutterstock
Unfortunately, just because recreational cannabis is in effect in California, that doesn’t mean you can just walk down the street getting high legally. Public consumption of cannabis results in a $100 fine, which goes up to $250 if the user is caught smoking in an area where tobacco is banned, such as an office building or restaurant. It’s also illegal to light up a joint within 1,000 feet of a school or daycare center when children are around.

Driving

Driving while smoking herb was and still is illegal, and the California recreational marijuana laws didn’t change that. You are allowed to have up to an ounce of herb in your car, but it’s best to keep that in a closed container in your trunk. There is a $250 fine for driving with an open cannabis container (what constitutes a ‘container’ has not been fully specified, so be careful with that), and there is an additional $70 fine for actively consuming marijuana while driving. Plus, it’s just dangerous.

At the Workplace

Does legal weed mean the end of drug testing? Does it mean you can’t get fired for showing up to work high? Well, not exactly. According to Tamar Todd, legal affairs director for a drug law reform group that was in favor of Proposition 64, “You can still be drug tested, and you could still be fired by your employer.” Employers can exercise the right to drug test at their discretion, and workers that operate heavy machinery at construction sites or in factories should expect a high possibility of being tested despite the legalization of recreational pot.

“Those zero-tolerance policies are about safety in the workplace,” Tamar Todd commented. “With the exception of the medicinal use, think of it as you would with alcohol. We don’t want you to come to work impaired.”

In the Airport

If you live in the Golden State, it’s always nice to bring some fresh Cali weed on a trip out of the state. Likewise, tourists visiting California surely are interested in taking some heady souvenirs home to their friends. But is this legal?

The good news is, the TSA is not directed to search for cannabis at the airport security checks, they have better things to do with their time, like stop a terrorist. The bad news is, if a TSA agent does decide to search your luggage for the possibility of another suspicious item, you can still get busted if they find some herb. The TSA agent will contact the airport police and let them figure out if they are going to press charges. Passengers that wish to take the risk should at least consider staying within the legal limits for possession (less than an ounce of flower, or up to 8 grams of hash or concentrate) to avoid harsher penalties. Here’s some more info about weed, edibles, and the TSA.

Paraphernalia

As in the past, there is no legal penalty for possession of cannabis paraphernalia like a bowl, bong, or vape pen. However, possession of paraphernalia with the intent to sell is punishable by up to 180 days’ jail time or a fine of $500. Adults aged 18 or over giving or selling paraphernalia to minors three or more years younger can face a fine of $1,000 and up to one year in jail.