At the stroke of midnight Jan. 1, 2018, recreational marijuana becomes legal in California. Like alcohol use, it too has its accompanying regulations.
Officers with the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office and the Quincy Area California Highway Patrol are gearing up to meet demands on law enforcement created by the new law.
Finding legal marijuana to purchase for recreational purposes can still be a little tricky for those without forethought.
With a few exceptions, the only legal sources are home grown and medical marijuana shops. Selling home grown marijuana to others or street sales is still illegal.
The law according to Prop 64
Retail sales of recreational cannabis go into effect in January 2018 at the earliest.
Adults 21 and older can legally possess, transport and grow marijuana for recreational use. Businesses cannot sell recreational cannabis until licensed. Cities and counties can deny recreational sales permits even if they allow for medical marijuana sales.
Every adult can possess one ounce of marijuana, 8 grams of marijuana concentrate and 6 plants per household.
Police (sheriff’s office and CHP) can no longer use the smell of pot or the presence of cannabis products as a legal reason to detain or search a person, vehicle or residence.
Cannabis is a legal commodity, the same as alcohol.
The cost of medical marijuana is expected to be 50 percent higher than medical, according to the Internet site MMJ Doctor about California’s new Proposition 64 laws. Tax revenues on recreational marijuana don’t started until retail businesses are open. Revenue from tax is anticipated to be around $1 billion per year based on a study of Colorado’s rates.
Using marijuana in public is illegal.
Driving while impaired or under the influence of marijuana is illegal.
Recreational cannabis shops cannot be within 600 feet of schools, youth centers and day care centers. The Plumas County Board of Supervisors and the city of Portola City Council have opted to restrict all cannabis shops from the county and city at this time. Counties and cities do have this option under Prop. 64.
Businesses that sell cannabis cannot sell alcohol. Businesses that sell alcohol cannot sell cannabis.
Marijuana edibles products must be labeled just like other food products. The labels must specify safe portion sizes and carry warnings about potential side effects. As a note of interest, there is a cell phone app available to help determine how strong a cannabis product really is.
To purchase marijuana, customers must show a valid California ID to show they are 21 or older.
Local cities or county governments cannot ban persons growing up to six marijuana plants. However, cities and counties can restrict where it is grown. Prop 64 allows cities and counties to restrict marijuana growing to indoors. The proposition also calls for all marijuana growing to take place where others won’t see it.
Under the new laws, those with prior criminal records involving marijuana can have them changed. For instance, if someone was caught with six or fewer plants, they can have the conviction erased. The law allows people to have past marijuana convictions revisited.
Recreational cannabis users can’t buy from a medical dispensary unless they have a new, valid medical use card.
Recreational users can’t legally buy recreational marijuana in other states and import it into California. This violates federal and interstate business laws.
Remember that although California has legalized recreational pot use, it’s still a crime with the federal government.
Medical marijuana users must get a new recommendation by a California licensed doctor to meet new requirements for the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act.
When it comes to regulating grows for either recreational or medical marijuana in Plumas County, Sheriff Greg Hagwood said the Board of Supervisors took it out of law enforcement hands in February 2016. He said regulation is now determined by the county’s planning department.
Supervisors are assuming that all growers will go through the proper channels, get permits and pay the fees. There seems to be no provision for illegal grows on private lands, according to Hagwood’s interpretation of the supervisors’ decision.
According to Special Operations Sgt Carson Wingfield, the sheriff’s office will continue to investigate illegal grows. “We have, we do and we will,” is how he stated their determination to control illegal or potentially illegal activities.
Don’t smoke and drive
Quincy Area California Highway Patrol officers will be following primarily a section of the California Penal Code for Health and Safe regulations, said Eric Logan, public information officer.
Amended rules that can earn individuals a trip to jail or citation are as follows:
Smoke or ingest cannabis or cannabis products in a public place unless stipulated with a Business and Professions Code.
Smoke cannabis or cannabis products in a location where smoking tobacco is prohibited.
Smoke cannabis or cannabis products within 1,000 feet of a school, day care or youth center while children are present, except in or upon the grounds of a private residence or in accordance with the Business and Professions Code, and only if such smoking is not detectable by others on the ground of those areas listed.
Possess an open container or open package of cannabis or cannabis products while driving, operating or riding in the passenger seat or compartment of a motor vehicle, boat, vessel, aircraft or other vehicle used for transportation.
Possess, smoke or ingest cannabis or cannabis products in or upon the grounds of a school, day care center or youth center while children are present.
Manufacture concentrated cannabis using a volatile solvent, unless done in accordance with a license under Division 10 of the Business and Professions Code.
Smoke or ingest cannabis or cannabis products while driving, operating a motor vehicle, boat, vessel, aircraft or other vehicle used for transportation.
Smoke or ingest cannabis or cannabis products while riding in the passenger sear or compartment of a motor vehicle, boat, vessel, aircraft, or other vehicle used for transportation except as permitted by the Business and Professions Code and while no persons under 21 years of age are present.
One question seems to stand out — where are recreational marijuana users to legally purchase weed?
For those who either studied the new regulations or know someone who did, they have their own plants ready for harvest or are ready to be harvested.
But what about those who haven’t done that or don’t have a new medical marijuana use card that allows them to purchase from existing shops?
Presumably, the situation is just as it was before Jan. 1, 2018. With the exception that medical marijuana cardholders must get a new card.
It’s still up to the state to issue licenses.
Proposition 64 allows cities and counties to decide if marijuana sales businesses are allowed. Cities and counties can set their own polices for sales, transportation and consumption. The problem is that most haven’t been able to make those determinations in time for Jan. 1 grand openings.
Los Angeles and San Francisco are among the largest markets that probably won’t be open for business, although there’s evidence that San Francisco could get it together in time to open venues later in January, according to Rick Schettino of the Pet Network in mid-November. In mid-December, LA did approve rules for recreational marijuana use. However, when shops will open is still being determined.
The overwhelming majority of cities and counties are deciding not to allow retail shops for the purchase of marijuana products.
It could be months or a year or more for many to approve retail sales, according to Nate Bradley, a representative with the California Cannabis Industry Association.
Regulatory climate for legal cannabis
Fifty-six percent of California voters may have approved Proposition 64, but city and county governments seem to have the final say when it comes to allowing dispensaries that sell cannabis and cannabis products.
On July 1, marijuana users in Reno and Las Vegas lined the streets in order to purchase legal recreational cannabis at Nevada’s two dispensaries. With a few exceptions, recreational dispensaries in California appear to be few and far between.
While medical marijuana dispensaries are found throughout the state, city and county officials have different ideas when it comes to allowing licensing for recreational sales. Lassen, Plumas and Sierra counties don’t allow sales of medical or recreational marijuana. Neighboring Butte County has medical marijuana shops in Chico, but shops are banned throughout the rest of the county. That county also regulates of the size of medical marijuana grows, according to a feature in the Chico Enterprise-Record a year ago.
Marijuana users, whether medical or recreational, are fairly knowledgeable about the laws, according to Plumas County Special Operation Sgt. Carson Wingfield. The lack of recreational marijuana shops isn’t taking this group by surprise.
Aside from the number of cities and counties saying no to dispensaries the state has been slow to revise and develop rules, according to Nate Bradley, a representative with the California Cannabis Industry Association.
Some areas have waited on the states regulations before drafting their own ordinances, according to Alison Malsbury, a cannabis-specialized attorney who is monitoring the implementation process.
Even for areas allowing for recreational dispensaries, shops must receive approval from the California Bureau of Cannabis Control. That agency didn’t start accepting applications for retail licenses until this month. At best, the bureau is handing out temporary licenses, according to the Sacramento Bee on Nov. 11.
The California cannabis industry was estimating $4 billion in recreational sales during the first year. With fewer shops than anticipated, that industry believes that figure will fall short. Estimated state and local tax revenues estimated from sales will also fall short.