Marijuana legalization arrives in California!
Last update: May 2, 2017
On Election Day, November 8, 2016, voters across the country ushered in a historic wave of marijuana policy reform victories, including California’s adoption of Proposition, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA). AUMA ends marijuana prohibition in the Golden State and replaces it with a more sensible system that will regulate, tax, and treat marijuana similarly to alcohol. This historic step adds the country’s most populous state to the ranks of those that regulate and tax marijuana for use by adults 21 and over.
The landscape of marijuana-related laws is ever-shifting. Gov. Jerry Brown is urging that conflicts between California’s medical and recreational marijuana laws be resolved by the end of 2017. The governor’s office published recommendations for how to merge differences in medical and recreational laws, with commentary ranging from how many licenses marijuana business owners can hold to how marijuana should be distributed.
The proposals were included in a trailer bill to Gov. Brown’s 2017-18 budget. California’s General Assembly will vote on whether the governor’s proposals become law.
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Medical marijuana proposed regulations
The California Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation released the first draft of its medical cannabis regulations on April 28, 2017. For the next 45 days, the Bureau will review public comments on the proposed regulations.
The California State Assembly is considering the advantages of combining the requirements of the Cannabis Safety Act and Proposition 64 for a comprehensive bill to regulate both medical and recreational marijuana.
If the proposed regulations come to fruition, then access for patients will be among the best in the country, allowing dispensaries to sell no more than eight ounces of cannabis to a single patient in a single day. However, free samples and transportation via bicycles and drones is strictly prohibited.
Additionally, dispensaries must be located at least 600 feet away from a school and must adhere to child-safe packaging practices, meaning the package must be opaque and resealable.
The current legal status of marijuana in California
Until the 2016 Election Day vote, possessing up to an ounce or less of marijuana was a civil infraction similar to a speeding ticket. Following the vote, possession of an ounce or less and the secure cultivation of up to six plants is lawful for all adults 21 and over.
While California had already reduced penalties before the vote, the state still punished tens of thousands of responsible adults each year for possessing a substance that is objectively safer than both alcohol and tobacco. A study released by the Drug Policy Foundation reported that despite the reduction in penalties, state law enforcement still arrested over half a million people in the past 10 years on marijuana-related charges, a huge number of which are minorities.
Now, California can stop wasting precious resources on citing, arresting, and prosecuting marijuana offenders, while ensuring the profits of marijuana sales go to responsible businesses and state budgets, instead of the pockets of criminals! Prop. 64 should be fully implemented by 2018.
At the same time, the state’s medical marijuana protections continue, and a regulatory system is being implemented for medical marijuana businesses. According to the state tax board, under Prop. 64, patients with a state ID card will immediately be exempt from sales taxes.