Marijuana Laws and Policies in California 2020
Long before most of the US territories even dared to consider the legalization of marijuana in their areas, the proud state of California had already been making waves with the way it dealt with weed. Even during the early years of the 1990s, when cannabis crimes and offenses were rampant across the world, California looked towards a different approach. And ever since, it has become one of the most welcoming US states to cannabis fans and enthusiasts alike.
The progression of the cannabis scene in California is truly something to behold. With warm, tropical climates to house the weed gardens found there, a lot of growers thrive and prosper in the Golden State. Additionally, both medical and recreational marijuana users will have easy access to the weed supplies that they will need!
So, what exactly is there to know about the cannabis scene in California? As one of the most progressive states in terms of cannabis reform and legislation, what should we expect from their local weed dispensaries and cannabis markets? Let’s find out!
History of Cannabis in California
It actually only wasn’t until recently that the cannabis scenes across the world had been taking strides towards reformation and legalization. Well before everything that we have today, cannabis was illegal and criminalized during the first years of the 1900s. In the following years, many crimes and charges were dealt out to citizens who were caught in the possession or consuming marijuana.
However, in 1996, California became the very first US state or territory to establish a policy that provided for a fully functional medical marijuana program. This policy, known as the Compassionate Use Act (Proposition 215), gave California residents the opportunity to utilize medical weed for the various health conditions they are diagnosed with.
This, however, contained many discrepancies and inaccurate representations of how a medical marijuana program was expected to operate. So, in 2003, the Senate Bill 420 (known famously for the Bill’s number) smoothened the Compassionate Use Act and provided for a more detailed framework. Since then, medical marijuana was made accessible to patients who wished to utilize cannabis as an alternative treatment.
Legalization of recreational cannabis:
While it wasn’t until a few years ago that recreational cannabis was made legal, California had already been known as a very lenient community for weed smokers. Those who were caught using or possessing weed in California prior to the legalization were actually tolerated by authoritative bodies. Instead of incarcerations, they were initially given fair warnings and petty fines. In fact, cannabis was actually decriminalized in California ever since 1975 through the Senate Bill 95.
Of course, this was not enough for many residents of the state. In the year 2016, the Adult Use Marijuana Act (Proposition 64) effectively legalized the use and cultivation of recreational marijuana.
Cannabis Regulation Body
The California Legislative body continued to make various improvements and amendments to the laws that it had established in past years. In order to further remedy the minor shortcomings of Proposition 64, the state government established the Medical and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) in June 2017. With the approval of this act, the medical marijuana program was able to come up with a detailed and understandable set of rules and application processes.
Furthermore, the MAUCRSA also established a single regulatory body which was tasked with governing the operations of both the medical and recreational sectors of cannabis. This was the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), which also dealt with the agricultural production and public health concerns regarding marijuana use.
Even during the year 1996, when cannabis was often surrounded by a negative stigma, voters of California approved of Proposition 215 by around 56%. This effectively made it the very first US state or territory to legalize medical marijuana.
Before being authorized to purchase any medical supplies from specialized dispensaries in California, patients must first obtain an oral or written prescription from an attending physician stating that their conditions would benefit from cannabis treatment.
Additionally, patients registered with the California Department of Public Health should secure their medical marijuana IDs through the governing body’s application process. Keep in mind that a medical marijuana ID is not a requirement to purchase medical weed supplies from dispensaries. Caregivers who wish to represent their patient must also register under the same.
Here is a list of the qualifying conditions that are authorized to be treated through the use of medical cannabis:
- Cachexia (Wasting Syndrome)
- Chronic Pain
- Epilepsy and other seizure conditions
- Severe nausea
- Muscle Spasms and Debilitating Multiple Sclerosis
In addition to these health conditions, any other terminal or debilitating condition may be treated with cannabis. California’s medical marijuana program allows this as long as the patient receives the proper prescriptions from an attending physician.
Legal Age, Purchasing, and Possession of Cannabis
Only adults who are at least 21 years old and above are authorized to take part in cannabis activities for recreational purposes in California. This is consistent with the majority of the US states that permit and legalize recreational cannabis in the country.
As for the medical marijuana program, there is no set limit for the patients. Caregivers, however, must be at least 18 years of age to qualify as such. Additionally, medical patients who are below 18 years old must have their parents and/or guardians act as their primary caregivers.
Purchasing locations and possession limits:
California is home to numerous marijuana dispensaries scattered all across the different cities and counties in the state. The West Coast, most notably in Los Angeles, houses a lot of dispensaries for both medical and recreational supplies. As such, all supplies of weed must be obtained only from official and government-mandated dispensaries. For convenience, many of these shops also offer delivery services throughout the whole state.
Recreational cannabis for sale is subject to a cumulative tax rate (inclusive of excise, cultivation, regulatory, and sales taxes) of 35% to 45%. As a regular commodity of the market, cannabis for adult-use definitely makes up a large part of the economy’s cash flows.
Qualifying patients and adult users are permitted to purchase and possess up to around 1 ounce (28 grams) of dried cannabis flower and around 8 grams of cannabis extracts and concentrates for adult use. When purchasing these from local weed dispensaries, you will need to first present a government-issued ID or any proof of age.
Medical patients and their caregivers, on the other hand, are allowed to purchase and possess up to 8 ounces (227 grams) per transaction. No medical marijuana ID is needed in order to purchase these supplies.
Consumption and Cultivation of Cannabis
The consumption of cannabis for any purposes in California is highly regulated by the law. This is in compliance with keeping the public, especially senior citizens and minors, away from the exposure to cannabis. Under the Adult Use Marijuana Act, consumption of cannabis is termed as “smoking” but will include other uses such as edibles and other forms that may induce psychotropic effects.
As such, cannabis consumption is allowed only in: private households and privately-owned properties/lots, vacant areas where the government does not prohibit the smoking and consumption of cannabis, and other accessory areas that are extensions of the private properties.
Public places and/or areas that are within 1000 feet away from places with high volumes of crowds(e.g. Schools, parks, gyms, churches), as well as anywhere it is prohibited to consume tobacco should also be kept cannabis-free! Driving or operating any vehicle while under the influence of marijuana is strictly considered as a criminal offense.
Households in California, regardless of the number of adults residing therein, are only allowed to house up to six (6) marijuana plants at a given time. These plants must be kept in enclosed areas where they are not visible to the public’s sight.
This limit applies for both recreational and medical users as well as their respective caregivers.
The blossoming state of California is undoubtedly one of the most premium destinations for any cannabis fan and grower out there! With a very welcoming community and an endless list of cannabis shops to purchase weed from, there is definitely no shortage of THC here!
California should definitely be a place to consider for many of you smokers out there. Take a trip there now and enjoy everything that they have to offer to the marijuana industry!