Over the past decade, several states around the country have legalized cannabis. In the state of California, it’s legal for adults (21 and over) to consume cannabis for medical or recreational purposes. As many California residents understand how marijuana is now legal, they aren’t sure how legalization happened.
In this post, we’ll discuss how medical and recreational cannabis was legalized in California, including the legislative history.
How Did Cannabis Become Legal in California?
The process of legalizing marijuana in California started nearly 30 years ago. In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, which legalized marijuana use for medical purposes. Both patients and caregivers could possess and cultivate cannabis to be used medically. Prop 215 became the very first medical marijuana ballot initiative in the U.S. to be passed at the state level.
While medical marijuana was legalized many years ago, it was only a matter of time before recreational use would face legalization. That day came on November 8, 2016, when California voters passed Proposition 64, called the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. This made it legal for adults to consume cannabis for non-medical purposes. Prop 64 also made it legal to sell and grow cannabis in the state, and the legislation also set sales and cultivation taxes.
A year later, in June 2017, the legislature passed the Medicinal and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, which solved some issues stemming from Prop 64. As the law went into effect on January 1, 2018, it simplified licensing requirements and made medical marijuana rules easier to understand. It also established that the Bureau of Cannabis Control would be the sole regulatory entity to oversee both medical and recreational marijuana operations in California.
Commercial cannabis manufacturing is regulated by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch. This team ensures the safe production of cannabis, including marijuana that’s free of contaminants and harmful substances. The branch also looks over cannabis packaging, making sure it meets state standards. For cultivators, they are licensed and regulated by the California Department of Agriculture CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing (CAL) division. The team also operates the California Seed-to-sale tracking system.
How Much Can You Possess?
Since recreational cannabis became legal in California on January 1, 2018, California residents can only possess a certain amount. To date, adults 21 years of age and older may possess up to one ounce of dried cannabis or eight grams of concentrated marijuana. Growing the substance is also legal; you may grow up to six plants, but there are some restrictions.
For those under 21, marijuana possession can result in an infraction and hefty fine. You could also be forced to attend drug counseling and community service. If an adult possesses more than the legal limit of cannabis, they could face a misdemeanor charge, including jail time of up to six months/and or a fine of up to $500.
Where Can You Purchase Cannabis?
With cannabis being legal in California, you may be wondering where and how you can make a purchase. To complete a safe transaction, only go through a state-licensed dispensary; these are the only establishments licensed to sell medical or recreational marijuana. Many dispensaries can even deliver orders straight to your door.
While most dispensaries provide cannabis to both recreational and medical customers, becoming a medical patient does have some perks, such as the exemption of sales and use tax when making medical cannabis purchases. However, this deal is only valid for patients who present a valid medical marijuana identification card. Also, not all counties have joined the California Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program, so make sure you check the California Department of Public Health website to find which counties participate in the program.
How Do the Taxes Work?
For every cannabis purchase for adult use, a 35% to 45% net effective tax will be added to each order. This includes excise, retail, and cultivation taxes. Additionally, local governments can add a cannabis business tax at whatever number they choose. The tax revenue produced is used to fund research, education, law enforcement, and the program’s administrative and regulatory costs.
Where Can You Consume Legal Cannabis?
While adults 21 and over can enjoy cannabis legally, you can’t smoke it everywhere. In fact, by law, it can only be consumed in a private setting. This includes within your residence or inside spaces that have a commercial cannabis consumption license. It’s also important to note that marijuana cannot be consumed in a vehicle, parked or not. Additionally, it’s also illegal for vehicle passengers to use the substance. By law, even an open container of cannabis in a vehicle is a violation. After consuming cannabis, it’s illegal to operate a vehicle, including a bicycle.
Is the Cannabis Tested in a Lab?
Whether it’s medical or recreational cannabis, the BBC requires that all marijuana is professionally tested to meet quality and safety standards. The marijuana is tested for moisture content, cannabinoids, residual pesticides, terpenoids, heavy metals, and much more.
Since cannabis has been legalized in California, more and more people are enjoying the benefits of marijuana use. Whether you consume the plant or not, it’s interesting to learn how legalization came to fruition.
How Did Cannabis Become Legal in California?
In 1996, Proposition 215 was passed in California, making medical marijuana legal in the state. In 2016, Proposition 64 was passed, which legalized cannabis use for recreational purposes.
Where Can You Purchase Legal Cannabis?
The safest way to purchase legal cannabis is through state-licensed dispensaries, which are found throughout the state of California.