Cannabis laws in California, what can be done and what do not?

Reading Time 5 minutes
Map of California with a background of marijuana plants.
Map of California with a background of marijuana plants.



California seems like the promised land of cannabis lovers, with thousands of dispensaries scattered throughout the state, it can openly boast of offering the best marijuana in the world, but is everything as beautiful as it seems?

This is not really the case, because although the law is quite flexible with consumers, it is necessary to be clear about how far the rights of users, growers, and all the companies in the sector that work there go, because freedom is not even total , not much like it. In this article we are going to delve into this topic, to try to clarify what says the law regarding cannabis in the state of California.



👾 California was the first state to regularize medical marijuana



In the mid-1990s, California was ahead of the rest of the US states and brought out Proposition or Proposition 215, its own law regulating the prescription of cannabis by doctors qualified to prescribe this treatment. This west coast state was a pioneer in the US in this regard, and at first it was not very clear that the project could work, but time proved them right.

More than 25 years have passed, and since then the law regarding this plant has changed several times in Cali, but the important thing is that right now they have more flexible regulations, and culturally yerba is much more accepted than then.



🎯 Prop 64, the project that finally succeeded


The use of therapeutic cannabis in California was quite normalized, but many inhabitants of this state were not satisfied only with being able to treat their ailments and diseases with yerba, they also wanted to be allowed to use it recreationally.

After several initiatives that were on the verge of success (especially the one before the current one that failed by a few thousand votes) in November 2016 California passed Proposition 64, a bill that regulates the recreational use of cannabis by people 21 and older, the reform that changed everything.



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📖 What does Proposition 64 or AUMA say about it?


After being passed in late 2016, Prop 64 went into effect on January 1, 2018 as the Adult Use Marijuana Act (AUMA) .This new law allows people over the age of 21 to possess up to 1 ounce ( 28.5 grams) of buds, and up to 8 grams of cannabis concentrate. One of the great advantages of California law over other states is that you can grow up to 6 plants in your own home, something that means that many people do not need to buy their cannabis.

A consumer who needs marijuana medicinally can buy or possess up to 8 ounces of cannabis a day (228 grams) and although it may seem somewhat exorbitant, this measure can mean that a sick person does not need to go out to buy every few days. In this state there are many people who consume yerba to treat all kinds of diseases, however they have been treating patients with cannabis for more years than anyone else in the country.



⛳ What are the requirements to be granted the medical card that gives access to medical cannabis in California??


In order to befor the eligibleMMICP (Medical Marijuana Program Identification Card) you must prove that you suffer from a disease from the following list:


  • SIDA
  • Anorexia
  • Arthritis
  • Cachexia (wasting syndrome)
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Glaucoma
  • Migraine
  • Persistent muscle spasms (for example, spasms associated with multiple sclerosis)
  • Seizures (for example, epileptic seizures)
  • Severe nausea
  • Any other chronic or persistent medical symptom that substantially limits a person’s ability to perform one or more of the major activities of life, depending on It is defined in the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and that if not alleviated, it can cause serious harm to the physical or psychological safety of the person.



⭐ Is this law only for residents of the state of California?


No, it is not necessary to live in California to be eligible for the MMICP card, if you can demonstrate any ailment, disorder or disease from the list above, or that the efficacy of cannabis to treat it has been demonstrated, you can receive the card that entitles you to buy medical marijuana in this state.

The only difference between residents and visitors who get the MMICP is that residents will be exempt from taxes for therapeutic cannabis, but visitors will have to pay the same fees as recreational yerba consumers, so the final price it is slightly higher in the latter.



✨ The new law from the consumer’s point of view


If you like to smoke or consume marijuana in a playful way, California is a true paradise, the best tourist destination that a stoner can choose, due to the variety of menu and formats, and above all because of the excellent quality of end product achieved by the Californian industry, incomparable with any other.

In the case of therapeutically consumers, the state of California is one of the fastest to grant the card that gives the right to the medical prescription of cannabis. In some cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, or San Diego among others, the supply of medical marijuana is very wide, so you can choose from thousands of different products.

The only problem is the prices, directly prohibitive for people who are not middle or upper class, but this happens with all sectors, it is a consequence of capitalism. In 2019, a study was done to find out the average price of cannabis in different states, and in California it was $ 11.60 per gram at the time, when in Colorado or Washington it was about half. Another drawback is the spaces where it can be consumed freely, which many people seem not to be completely clear about.



☕ Where can you consume cannabis and where not in California?


The fact that the consumption of yerba is allowed in this state does not mean that it can be done in all places, and this can be a problem for people who do not know the rules. Where can it be freely consumed?


  • Private residences
  • Ancillary structures located on the grounds of a private residence that is closed and secure from the public
  • Outdoors in a private residence as long as the city / county where the residence is located does not prohibit such action


And now most importantly, in what area is the use of marijuana prohibited within the state of California?


  • ANY public place or area
  • ANY place where tobacco smoking is prohibited
  • Within 1,000 feet of a school, youth center, or daycare center where children are present while not within the confines of a private residence (if located in a private residence within a radius of 1,000 feet from a school / nursery / youth center, you can only consume if the smoke is undetectable to the surrounding area)


Other limitations that we may encounter

  • Transportation: No open package containing marijuana can be transported in a vehicle, always they have to be in child-proof containers and out of the driver’s reach. Passengers are prohibited from smoking in the vehicle.
  • Driving: It is still totally illegal to drive motor vehicles under the influence of cannabis. The penalties are very harsh, suspension of the driving license, financial fines, and even deprivation of liberty in the most serious cases. The penalties are increasing by accumulation, that is, repeat offenders receive an even greater penalty.
  • Cultivation: Although up to 6 marijuana plants can be grown or owned for each address, there are certain rules that must be followed. The home grown cannot be in sight, and all harvested yerba that exceeds 28.5 grams must be well preserved in a safe place




🚀 Conclusion


California has come a long way during the last five years with respect to the laws that defend the rights of marijuana users, and while not perfect, the current law is possibly the best this state has had in the last 100 years.


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Fran Quesada Moya
Fran Quesada Moya

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