Back in November 2016, the state of California legalized adult use of marijuana by passing Proposition 64 with a vote of 57% to 43%. The proposition, now simply (and famously) referred to as Prop 64, effectively made it legal for California residents to use and possess up to 1 oz of marijuana. It also allowed for the legal and taxable sale of recreational marijuana, but this aspect of the legislation only recently came into effect on January 1 of this year (2018).
However, those are only the generalized terms of Prop 64; there are still some nuances and subtleties of the law that you ought to be aware of before heading to the Golden State with the intention of getting your cannabis fix. In this article, we talk all things Prop 64 in order to help make you more familiar with marijuana laws in California. After all, the more you know, the safer you’ll be.
What is Prop. 64?
Prop 64 was a voter initiative (state resident) proposition that started back in 2016 in an effort to decriminalize the adult use and possession of cannabis in California. It was officially titled the “Adult Use of Marijuana Act” (AUMA), or more thoroughly (according to California’s Office of Attorney General), the “Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act.”
It was voted on by residents of the state on November 9, 2016, and according to stats on Wikipedia, passed by a total count of 7,979,041 votes (57.13%) to 5,987,020 (42.87%).
As was expected, the proposition sent a pretty heavy message to federal officials in Washington in regard to the country’s general stance on legalizing cannabis.Here are the most important things you need to know about Prop 64, and legal marijuana laws in the state of California:
- It is now legal for adult California residents (age 21 and over) to “possess, transport, obtain or give away to other adults no more than one ounce of marijuana, or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis.” (*By the term concentrated cannabis, they are referring to high-potency extracts like oils, shatters, dabs, butters, and waxes).
- It is now legal for adult CA residents to “cultivate up to six plants per residence and possess the marijuana produced by these plants.”
However, it’s important to clarify that all self-cultivated harvests in excess of 1 oz must be kept inside the residence, “in a [and] not in public view.” Moreover, individual county governments in the state may prohibit outdoor cultivation, though they must allow it indoors as long as it’s “…inside a private residence or accessory structure that is fully enclosed and secure.”
What Does Prop 64 Mean for CA Residents Who Already Have A Medical Marijuana Card?
For residents of California that already had an MMJ card prior to the passing of Prop 64, they will remain legally covered under Prop 215, which is the California Compassionate Use Act. Under Prop 215:
- Patients who have a medical marijuana card in California will still be able to possess and cultivate as much marijuana as is needed, upon the recommendation of their physician. In other words, the six plants/one ounce rule for recreational growers will not be applicable to those with a valid MMJ card.
However, as we mentioned earlier medical patients still need to be wary of local county laws, as according to the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), local governments may still restrict cultivation via what’s known as a “nuisance ordinance.”
What Does Prop 64 Mean for Retail Marijuana Sales in California?
In addition to making it legal for adult California residents to use, possess and cultivate recreational cannabis, new laws under Prop 64 have made it legal for approved companies to manufacture, market, and sell taxable cannabis products (including buds/flower, edibles, oils, and concentrates) in state-licensed dispensaries. It also makes it legal for out-of-state residents to purchase and use legal marijuana inside state lines, much like other recreational states such as Colorado, Oregon and Washington.
Retail marijuana sales only began recently, though (January 2018), as it took the state quite some time to go through the approval and certification processes.
Also, another thing of note in regard to taxable marijuana sales from Prop 64 is that, according to the State Board of Equalization (and published by CANORML), MMJ cardholders (i.e. those under the jurisdiction of Prop 215 instead of Prop 64) will be exempt from state sales tax when purchasing marijuana in state-licensed dispensaries.
In other words, if you are a resident of California and routinely spend over $100 per month on cannabis, AND use it to treat a qualifying medical condition, it would likely benefit you more to go ahead and get your marijuana card rather than purchase as a recreational customer (card fees are maxed out at $100, and are $50 for Medi-Cal patients).
[For more information, check out this article on whether or not you should keep your Medical Marijuana Card if you live in a state that has legalized recreationally).
What Prop 64 Does NOT Cover Under California Law
Be advised that just because weed has been legalized in California under Prop 64 legislation, this doesn’t mean the state is now a “cannabis free for all.” Here are some pretty important things to keep in mind in terms of what you CANNOT do under current laws:
- You may not consume marijuana in public places (though discussions for consumption inside licensed dispensaries are supposed to be taking place soon). As of right now (May 2018, it is a $100 penalty if you get caught using cannabis in a public space.
- You may not smoke or use a vaporizer in a designated non-smoking area (i.e. restaurants, public buildings, etc). The same fees and penalties apply to smoking tobacco in a designated non-smoking area
- You may not consume marijuana within 1,000 ft of any school, day care, or youth center while children are present (though private locations may set their own rules). Getting caught using cannabis within 1,000 ft of children at these locations may result in a $100 fine
- You may not consume or possess marijuana in an “open container” while in a motor vehicle (including cars, boats, airplanes, or other motor vehicles). This may result in a $250 fine.
- You may not manufacture (unless you are a state-licensed dispensary) cannabis extracts using a “volatile solvent.” (Check out this article for more information on dangerous solvent extractions).
- You may not “possess, use, transport, or cultivate marijuana” if you are a minor under the age of 21 (potential $100 fine, and/or mandatory drug counseling or community service for minors under the age of 18).
- You may not possess more than 1 oz of cannabis without a valid California MMJ card. Possession of more than this amount is still subject to criminal punishment (misdemeanor), as well as a $500 fine and and/or a potential sentence of six months in jail.
- You may not cultivate more than the aforementioned six plants, transport more than an ounce of cannabis, or sell (or otherwise distribute) cannabis for compensation (though these infractions have been downgraded from felonies to misdemeanors, except in certain “aggravating circumstances).
And finally, it’s important to understand that even with the implementation of Prop 64, property owners may still forbid the use or possession of marijuana on their property. And moreover, employers may still prohibit the use of cannabis and subject their employees to possible termination, if it has been deemed they have used cannabis against company policy.
If you have a prior criminal conviction for use or possession of marijuana (of which the penalty has since been downgraded under Prop 64 legislation), you may petition the state court to “have your record changed to what it would be if Prop 64 had been in effect.”