California is one of a number of states in the US that have legalized both medical cannabis and recreational cannabis. This means that you can possess cannabis product, consume and buy cannabis legally in the state provided you are over the age of 21.
Marijuana dispensaries licensed by the Bureau of Cannabis Control provide legal cannabis sales although not every cannabis dispensary is licensed to sell recreational marijuana. Some California marijuana dispensaries are only licensed to sell medical marijuana. In order to buy from these medical marijuana dispensaries you must have a doctor’s recommendation. If you have a qualifying condition you can apply online today.
Is Recreational Weed Legal in California 2020?
Marijuana legalization in California started with the passing of the compassionate use act in 1996 which made marijuana legal for medical patients that had a doctor’s recommendation verifying they had a qualifying condition. The passing of this act made California the first state to legalize marijuana and created a legal marijuana market in California.
Adult-use cannabis or recreational weed was legalized in 2016 with the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) also known as California proposition 64. This act effectively legalized cannabis for recreational use for any adult over the age of 21.
In 2020 legal recreational weed can be purchased from state licensed dispensaries and possession and consumption are both legal providing you abide by California’s marijuana laws. All you now need to buy weed legally in California is ID to prove you are over 21.
Current cannabis regulation in California comes from the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA). This legislation, which became effective in 2018, supplants the previous marijuana laws and establishes a uniform licensing regime for both medicinal and recreational cannabis in California.
What You Need to Know
While cannabis is legal in California you could still get into trouble if you don’t abide by the rules. When it comes to buying and using recreational marijuana in California here are a few things you need to know:
- Thanks to the adult use of marijuana act any adult over the age of 21 may purchase, be in possession of and transfer to another adult up to 1 ounce of dried cannabis or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis. You will need ID to buy cannabis both to prove you are over 21 and to make sure you haven’t exceeded the daily purchase limits.
- Any adult may have up to 6 live plants although the rules vary locally as to where these can be grown, for example Woodland Hills along with many other areas prohibits outdoor cultivation only allowing you to grow indoors in private residences.
- Driving under the influence remains illegal in all parts of the state. If you are suspected of driving under the influence you could be subjected to drug testing and prosecuted.
- It is illegal to consume cannabis in public, including vaping, smoking and eating, as well as to open a container in public. This includes parks, sidewalks, public buildings and businesses. It is also illegal to smoke cannabis in any place where it is illegal to smoke tobacco including bars and restaurants. Some states have licensed special smoking lounges which provide a legal place to consume weed that isn’t a private residence.
- It is illegal to transport cannabis across state lines. This rule applies even if you are traveling between two states where marijuana is legal.
- It is illegal to have an open container in your vehicle unless it is locked away for example in the boot. This applies even if it’s with a passenger, so no smoking in the car whether you are the driver or not.
- It is only legal to buy from state licensed dispensaries. An illegal pot market still exists in California but you are breaking the law if you buy from the black market.
- Cannabis remains a schedule 1 substance according to the controlled substances act and remains illegal under federal law this means you cannot possess or consume marijuana on state land including national parks. Federal land accounts for over 40% of California meaning you need to be when using weed recreationally.
- It is illegal to sell or give cannabis to a minor unless they are a certified medical patient aged 18-20.
Local California Cannabis Regulations
While cannabis has been legalized in California, local governments, both city and county are permitted to regulate and prohibit commercial cannabis activity although they are not allowed to prevent cannabis deliveries and may not prohibit adult possession or consumption.
This means that there are a number of cities and counties where you will not find marijuana business in the form of storefront dispensaries and where commercial cultivation is not permitted. Other cities and counties however are much more lenient. For example the County of Santa Barbara has issued the most cannabis cultivation licenses. Palm Springs and San Francisco score very highly when it comes to being cannabis friendly as they even allow cannabis lounges.
This means that although recreational weed is legal according to state legislation, you need to check local legislation as well, as different local authorities have different rules. For example in California City medical businesses are allowed while recreational businesses are not. San Luis Obispo has very strict local regulations not allowing medical or recreational businesses. And Santa Cruz is very liberal with all types of medical and recreational business allowed. Individual local jurisdictions also get to decide how many licenses are issued for each type of business.
Other cities that allow all types of recreational and medical cannabis business include; Santa Rosa, San Bernardino, Lake Elsinore, Moreno Valley, Sacramento, Oakland and San Diego.
Bureau of Cannabis Control
California’s legal marijuana market is primarily governed by the Bureau of Cannabis Control alongside the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the California Department of Public Health.
The Bureau of Cannabis Control oversees the cannabis industry and issues licenses to any cannabis business wishing to transport, test or sell cannabis, with a separate agency being responsible for granting cannabis cultivation licenses.
Medical Marijuana Law
Despite the fact that legalization in California has taken place for both adult-use and medicinal cannabis California’s marijuana laws still distinguish between the two in a number of ways.
Medical marijuana law allows patients that have a doctor’s recommendation a number of privileges including access to the California Department of Public Health Medical Marijuana Identification Card program (MMICP), the ability to buy legal pot without sales taxes, and higher possession and purchase limits.
For example, the purchase limit for medicinal users and their primary caregivers is 8oz rather than 1oz and medical users are allowed to grow 12 plants rather than 6 and up to 99 plants if they apply for a growers license, although these do all need to be for personal use.
The Medical marijuana program also provides a registry that allows law enforcement to quickly identify patients and verify their credentials meaning you are less likely to get in trouble for possessing too much.
If you have a qualifying medical condition the process of getting a doctor’s recommendation and ID card is quick and easy. You can apply online here today and get your results within minutes.