California Drug Laws

In 2014, California voted in a measure to reduce penalties for certain crimes know as Proposition 47, Reduced Penalties for Some Crimes Initiative. The initiative reduced the classification of most “nonserious and nonviolent property and drug crimes” from a felony to a misdemeanor. This includes shoplifting, grand theft, fraud, and the focus of this blog post, use of most “illegal” drugs. Proposition 47 reclassified drug possession offenses under Health and Safety Code sections 11350, 11357(a) [concentrated cannabis], and 11377 from a felony or wobbler to strictly misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in county jail.

More recently, California passed regulation loosening the restrictions on the use of recreational marijuana. Recreational marijuana sales under the guise of Proposition 64 became legal in California on Jan. 1, 2018; however, that doesn’t permit you to just blaze up wherever you please. Despite being legal in California, under federal law, marijuana is still ILLEGAL. To help stay on the right side of the law, here are some details of the new California recreational regulations to know:

Legal Age Requirement: The law permits adults 21 and up to buy 1 ounce of cannabis per day (about a few dozen joints). In regards to cannabis concentrates, you can alternately purchase up to 8 grams of this found in edibles, including candies, brownies and breakfast bars. Note, that the number of edibles you can legally possess depends on the product itself.

Purchasing Rules: You’ll need to visit a state-licensed recreational dispensary between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. After 10 p.m., the law makes it illegal to sell until 6 a.m. the following day. It MUST be from a licensed dispensary.

  • You’ll need a valid government-issued ID, but it can be from any state, according to a spokesman for the California Bureau of Cannabis Control. Options include a driver’s license; a military ID with a person’s picture and date of birth; or a passport issued either by the U.S. or by other countries.

Costs: Because of regulations, costs now include a new statewide 15 percent tax on all recreational and medical cannabis products plus additional local taxes and fees. In Oakland, for example, the added local tax is 10 percent for recreational pot and 5 percent for medical cannabis. However, California consumers may see prices reduced by as much as half over the next year if market patterns follow those in Washington state and Colorado (both of which earlier legalized recreational pot).

Consumption: You still cannot smoke marijuana or have cannabis concentrate products in public. To stay within the law, you’ll need to consume cannabis strictly on private property. You CANNOT consume, smoke, eat, or vape cannabis in public places. Also, smoking marijuana where tobacco is prohibited is also illegal, unless there is a local ordinance expressly allowing its usage. This includes school campuses, restaurants, bars, public parks and hospitals — essentially any public building. Furthermore, selling on school property is also forbade.

  • Another California law went into effect Jan. 1 regarding using marijuana and driving. Marijuana impairs your ability to thoroughly drive; therefore, the operating a vehicle, vessel, aircraft or railway equipment under the influence of marijuana is illegal. This specific law adds to the number of laws in place regarding marijuana, which bans lighting up or snacking on any marijuana products while driving or riding as a passenger in a car—including cannabis edibles.
  • Be aware that property owners and landlords may ban the use and possession of cannabis on their properties just like the their ability to do so with tobacco products. The state agency outlined two other restrictions:
    • You cannot consume or possess cannabis on federal lands such as national parks, even if the park is in California.
    • It is illegal to take cannabis across state lines, even if you are traveling to another state where cannabis is legal. This includes taking cannabis onto either a domestic or international flight.
  • Lastly, it is important to note that, regardless of cannabis consumption being legal, being fired from work because of cannabis use depends solely on your employer. There is NO state law that protects employees from termination for using marijuana. A 2008 Supreme Court decision ruled that employers are entitled to fire employees who fail a drug screening for marijuana— regardless of state law—and can administer random drug screenings at any time without notice.

Although there are big changes happening in regards to the legalization of marijuana use state by state, it is still important to be aware of the fact that it is still a Schedule 1 drug on a federal level. If you have been charged with a crime in regards to marijuana consumption, contact RP Defense Law for a consultation.