Not too long ago, each US state prohibited the use of cannabis. But things have changed dramatically. In many states, including California, cannabis is now legal for medicinal and recreational use.
But there are still many rules that you must follow to use cannabis legally, even in California and other states where it is recreationally legal. Not only are there state laws, but cities, counties, and other entities can place additional restrictions on the usage and growth of marijuana.
This article covers everything you need to know about marijuana in California. We’ll describe what’s legal and what’s not, plus answer many questions, such as, “Is it legal to grow marijuanas in California?”
After reading this, you’ll be able to figure out what you can and can’t do with weed in California.
Cannabis Legality in California: Medical vs. Recreational
Let’s all get on the same page by making it clear that cannabis, marijuana, and pot all refer to the same thing. We’ll use the terms interchangeably as there is no meaningful difference between them.
Hemp, on the other hand, generally refers to a type of marijuana with a low THC content. It doesn’t provide the same psychoactive effect as marijuana and is often grown for CBD, other cannabinoids, or its durable fiber to make things like rope or textiles.
There are two different classes of legal cannabis use. California divides these between medicinal purposes and recreational usage. Different rules apply to these groups, so it’s worth understanding the differences.
In 1996, California paved the way forward by becoming the first state to legalize marijuana use for medicinal purposes. Voters passed Prop 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act, allowing certain people to use cannabis.
People 18 and older can use cannabis in California with a physician’s recommendation. These medical users have increased possession limits under state law, including up to eight ounces of marijuana and 12 live plants.
Determining the need for medicinal marijuana is a complicated topic. Finding a physician willing to recommend cannabis use can be difficult in some areas. It’s best to work with a physician who understands the impacts and has a solid grasp of its recommended uses.
For two decades, California only had medical marijuana use. That changed in 2016 when California voters passed Prop 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA). This law opened the door to recreational marijuana.
Under state law, anyone 21 and older can use cannabis without a physician’s recommendation.
You still must follow many restrictions, including limits on amounts you can purchase and possess, plus specific details like where you can use it and when being under the influence of marijuana is not allowed.
The possession limits under state law are slightly more restrictive for recreational users in comparison to medicinal users. Recreational limits include 28.5 grams (one ounce) of marijuana possession and six live plants. Higher tax rates also apply to the sale of recreational pot.
Is It Legal To Grow Marijuanas in California?
Since purchasing cannabis at a licensed dispensary can be expensive, many people are interested in growing marijuana for personal use. After all, it is a plant that can thrive when its basic needs are met.
A simple combination of soil, sunlight, and water can provide all the marijuana you might want. Some people choose to get very scientific about it, but at the end of the day, it’s a plant that is surprisingly resilient and easy to grow.
So, is it legal to grow weed in California?
The answer is yes, at least under state law. Those who qualify for medicinal marijuana use can grow up to 12 live plants, while recreational users can grow up to six plants.
But these state laws don’t tell the whole story. Let’s take a look at the other issues that can impact your legal ability to grow cannabis in California.
Like most legal topics, state statutes are just the tip of the iceberg. A host of other restrictions can apply to your situation. Knowing them is crucial to ensuring your legal rights and abilities. Is it legal to grow weed in California under all local restrictions? The answer is more complicated.
The state regulatory body, known as the Department of Cannabis Control, interprets the state laws to create more specific regulations. The regulations do not create new rules. They generally still allow for 12 medicinal or six recreational plants.
But the regulations can provide other details that may or may not apply to your situation. They are more specific than state statutes and ensure that the practical use and growth of marijuana align with the laws while protecting the communities from harm.
And on top of the state statutes and regulations, city and county authorities can enact ordinances to place more restrictions on the usage and growth of marijuana. These authorities have the power to go above what the state law says, and many local bodies have taken steps to do so.
You need to know the local ordinances before growing marijuana. This issue might require you to review the city and county ordinances and contact the authorities to clarify what is needed. They can also require permits that you might need to grow marijuana in California.
Some California cities, such as Sacramento, limit the number of marijuana plants you can legally grow to six, regardless if it’s for medicinal or recreational purposes.
Another common restriction from city and county agencies is that all marijuana plants must be grown indoors.
Private Property Only
Is it legal to grow marijuana in California on public property? No, you must grow all cannabis plants on private property.
Even if you find a great spot where the plant could thrive and you think it’s not disrupting anyone, growing pot on public land is not legal and can lead to trouble. Some people try to get away with this, but they’re asking for trouble.
On top of that, you might have to deal with more specific agreements related to your property. If you rent your home, you’ll need to review the rental agreement and possibly notify your landlord or homeowner about the marijuana plants you want to grow.
Where Can You Legally Use Cannabis?
Now that you know the answer to, “Is it legal to grow marijuana in California?” is yes, let’s talk about what happens after you grow it. After all, most people don’t grow the plant just to look at it. You want to either smoke or ingest it to feel the psychoactive effect.
The most important rule is that cannabis can only be legally used on private property. Even in places where smoking cigarettes is allowed, you cannot smoke or vape marijuana in public.
You might be wondering if this is true. After all, you’ve likely smelled it in public places. But the fact is that if people use marijuana in a public place, they are breaking the law and can face penalties.
Special rules apply to anywhere with 1,000 feet of a school, daycare center, or youth center while kids are present. In all those cases, marijuana use is prohibited, even if you are on private property.
This issue is another area where your landlord, apartment manager, or HOA could impose additional restrictions. If they decide to prohibit marijuana use, you must follow those rules in almost all cases.
Finding Licensed Cannabis Businesses
Sometimes you don’t want to grow pot yourself. Even though it can be relatively easy, it takes space, time, and effort to bring a plant from a seed to harvest. And that’s where cannabis dispensaries can help out.
Unfortunately, you can’t trust that every business that sells cannabis is legally authorized to do so. Just like buying from any black market dealer, purchasing marijuana from these places can put you in harm’s way.
Once again, this is an area where local ordinances can heavily come into play. For example, the City of San Diego has many restrictions on the number of cannabis outlets and locations.
To search for licensed cannabis businesses, turn to the Department of Cannabis’s website. It allows you to perform searches and find licensed dispensaries, allowing you to get your pot from a legal outlet. You might need to do the same for local authorities.
How to Legally Drive with Cannabis
Another cannabis issue worth discussing is driving with it. Driving under the influence of cannabis, both smoked or consumed, is prohibited. You can be penalized under California’s DUI laws.
Even if you aren’t under the influence, you must keep the marijuana in a sealed package or the trunk of your vehicle. Simply put, you need to ensure you don’t have access to it while driving. If you don’t, suspicions can arise, along with potential penalties.
You are also prohibited from taking legally-obtained California marijuana across state lines. Even if the other state has legalized marijuana use, taking California cannabis across state lines can get you into trouble as it is a state-regulated substance.
Contact Garrett T. Rice For Help
California has approved the use of medicinal and recreational marijuana, including the growth of between six to 12 plants. But you’ll need to check your local laws and stick to private property to ensure you use it legally.
Also, be careful driving with pot and never consume it before getting behind the wheel.
If you have run into legal issues related to cannabis, contact Garrett T. Rice for help. He can answer your questions so you can avoid legal issues and help you find the justice you deserve.