PROPOSITION 64 PASSED. IS CANNABIS LEGAL IN CALIFORNIA RIGHT NOW?

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WHEN EXACTLY IS CANNABIS LEGAL IN UNDER CALIFORNIA LAW? 

12:00 am on November 9, 2016.

Under California's Constitution, ballot initiatives approved by the majority of voters take effect the next day, unless the initiative says otherwise.  (Article 2, Section 10(a)).   Proposition 64, or AUMA, has no built-in delay, and the day after the election begins right at the stroke of midnight.  

WHAT EXACTLY IS LEGAL?

Under Proposition 64, California state law allows individuals 21 or older to possess, use, purchase, transport, or "give away" up to 28.5 grams of marijuana or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis.  California state law also allows individuals to grow up to 6 plants and “possess the marijuana produced by the plants.”   Proposition 64 also allows legal possession of "marijuana accessories."

ARE THERE ANY RESTRICTIONS ON WHERE AND WHEN CALIFORNIANS CAN CONSUME AND GROW CANNABIS?

Yes, several.  Under Proposition 64, Californians may not:

  • consume cannabis in a public place;
  • smoke cannabis anywhere smoking tobacco is prohibited;
  • smoke cannabis within 1,000 feet of a school, day care, or youth center while children are present (except in a private residence);
  • possess an open container while driving or riding in a car, boat, or other vehicle; and
  • consume cannabis while driving or riding in a vehicle (except where local ordinances allow it).

In addition, local cities and counties may impose additional "reasonable regulations" on personal cultivation.  Those vary around the state.  Under Proposition 64, however, local governments may not completely prohibit indoor personal grows of up to 6 plants in a private residence or inside an "accessory structure" on the grounds of a private residence that is "fully enclosed and secure."  

DOES PROPOSITION 64 ALLOW ME TO LEGALLY SELL CANNABIS IN CALIFORNIA?

No, not without both a local license and a state license.  Local licenses will take some time, and state licenses will not be available until 2018. 

Selling adult-use cannabis without a permit is still a crime under state law.  (Medical cannabis is different, as covered elsewhere on this site.)

IF CANNABIS IS LEGAL TO BUY AND CONSUME, BUT NOT TO SELL, WHERE ARE CONSUMERS SUPPOSED TO LEGALLY OBTAIN IT?

It is a conundrum. 

Consumers can grow their own, up to 6 plants.  And personal growers can give cannabis away away (but not sell it or trade for value).  

However, that is not likely to satisfy the demand of Californians.  And it will be a long while before any licensed adult-use growers and retailers have product to sell.  

Will some Californians buy on the black market? Of course they will, and it will still be a crime for the seller.   

That said, it would not be surprising for the state legislature to pass a law allowing licensed medical cannabis dispensaries to sell small amounts of cannabis to non-medical adults as a "transition" into full adult-use legalization.  That is the path Oregon took.