A Brief Overview of California’s New Cannabis Rules


Jason Mueller

January 19th, 2018

Policy


Businessman draws a statistical trend line

California’s Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) is officially in effect: stemming from a voter initiative called Prop 64, the recreational legalization of cannabis in CA has been voter-approved since November 8, 2016.  Though the law is comprehensive and offers plenty of new allowances for companies and individuals, there are still local governments in California that are trying to stymie the full recreational legalization of cannabis, despite CA having more experience with mainstream flow of cannabis than any other state, (CA legalized medical cannabis in 1998).  Regardless of the protests of a few cities and towns, CA residents have made their voice clear, and AUMA will open the door for more progressive recreational laws in the future.  Here’s what AUMA means for recreational cannabis in California:

Legal Possession

According to AUMA, persons carrying, buying or selling up to one ounce of dried flower or eight grams of concentrate are legally in the clear now.  No medical cards needed; consumers only need to be able to prove that they’re 21 or older.

Home Grows

Whereas under the medical laws of California it was required to have a permit to grow cannabis, AUMA gives permission to any resident of California to grow up to six plants of their own.  Though growing technique and skill largely influences yields, especially for beginner growers, it is not unheard of for a good cannabis grower to yield 1-2 lbs. per harvest within a 4’x4′ space.  Since the law specified that only one ounce is permissible on a CA resident at one time, the law further clarifies that if kept in a secure, indoor location, a CA resident can keep and hold as much cannabis as they can store.  The law also states that while local governments can set reasonable limits on cultivation, no CA governing body can restrict residents from growing in a secure, indoor facility, whether home-based or an attached structure to a home.

Prohibited Actions

Despite this bill being the most comprehensive full recreation legalization effort for cannabis, AUMA still defines several actions clearly that will still remain illegal despite cannabis’ newly legal status.

  • Smoking in Public: Regardless of cannabis’ legality, it is still illegal under AUMA to smoke cannabis in public spaces.  If you decide to smoke in public and are caught, it could be a $100 fine for you – mind you that this prohibition also means you cannot vape concentrates in public.  This law is hazy on whether it is illegal to consume edibles in public places, but it doesn’t specify that it is illegal as it does with raw flower smoking and concentrate vaping.
  • Operating a Vehicle with an Open Cannabis Container:  Similarly to it being illegal to travel with an open container of alcohol, CA residents will not be able to drive, boat, or fly if they have cannabis openly on their person.  Cannabis must be sealed and contained, stored and inaccessible in order for it to travel legally with you when you’re operating any vehicles. One interesting permission is that if a commercial vehicle charters passengers that are all adults, passengers are allowed to smoke in the vehicle.  This opens the door for “Party Bus” services to allow cannabis users to smoke cannabis as well as drink.
  • No Smoking in No-Smoking Areas:  This may seem like a no-brainer, but AUMA specifically sets a $250 fine for anyone using cannabis in a non-smoking area.  Perhaps the interpretation of the “no smoking signs” according to law implicate tobacco use: either way, CA lawmakers left nothing to chance.  Smoking cannabis is just as illegal in a “no smoking” area as smoking cigarettes.
  • No Carrying Cannabis on School Grounds:  It will remain illegal to possess cannabis on school grounds while children are present.  This offense carries a $100 fine.
  • Processing Concentrates with Volitle Compounds:  Under AUMA, it is illegal to use butane to try extracting concentrates from raw flower.  If you’ve ever heard of concentrate extraction going bad and causing an explosion, you know why butane extraction should be left to the professionals.
  • Employer and Landlord Protections:  According to AUMA, both employers and landlords can still specify that their workplaces and/ or rental units are drug free.  This means there is no protection for cannabis users if their workplace or apartment complex opts to crack down on cannabis.

In conclusion, cities like LA that have tried delaying the implementation of AUMA by delaying applications until January 3rd, 2018 are in the minority compared to the entirety of the state.  Kern County has also banned commercial cannabis activity in CA, but most towns and cities are preparing for a boon to business and a smooth integration of California’s new cannabis rules.  Implementation will continue to be debated but in the coming years after CA’s successful cannabis legalization move, it’s likely that resistant counties and cities will be pressured to ease their stances.

Jason Mueller

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