The voters of California have decided to make the recreational use of marijuana legal for adults who are 21 years of age and older.
The state was the first to legalize medicinal marijuana in 1996 with Proposition 215. Since then, 24 other states have legalized medical marijuana, while four states (Washington, Colorado, Alaska, and Oregon) and Washington, D.C. have approved recreational use.
Now that recreational use, possession, and sale of marijuana is legal in California, what will change starting today?
Question: What does Proposition 64 mean? Answer: Adults who are 21 years old and over can now legally consume marijuana without possessing a doctor's note for medical purposes. Eligible individuals can also have up to an ounce of marijuana buds or eight grams of cannabis concentrates on their person.
Q: Are you allowed to use marijuana in a public place? A: No. Marijuana use is only allowed on private property. Individuals caught smoking weed in public can be subject to a $100 fine. However, the fine increases to $250 in non-smoking designated areas.
Q: What happens to criminal charges related to marijuana? A: Possession of marijuana with the intent to sell is now considered a misdemeanor, as opposed to a felony that is punishable by a prison sentence of up to two years. Adults who possess more than one ounce can still face a misdemeanor charge, punishable by a jail sentence of up to six months and a maximum fine of $500. Those under 21 years old will be subject to a $100 infraction for possession.
Q: What about driving while stoned? A: Current state laws about driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are still being maintained.
Q: How many marijuana plants can you grow? A: Eligible individuals are permitted to grow as many as six plants at home, either indoor or in enclosed structures. Local governments have the power to ban outdoor cultivation.
Q: When and where can you purchase recreational marijuana? A: Stores that will sell recreational marijuana can open on or before January 1st, 2018, since a state program for retail licenses will be active by then. However, marijuana dispensaries can begin applying for temporary state licenses for sale as early as next year.
Q: How much will marijuana be taxed? A: The state will impose a 15% excise tax on recreational and medical marijuana sales, in addition to state and local sales taxes. However, if medical marijuana users possess a California state identification card from the country office of their residence, they can be exempt from sales taxes.
Q: How can recreational use of marijuana be legal in California when it is still illegal on a federal level? A: Even though the use and sale of pot remains prohibited by federal law, the U.S. Justice Department promises not to target lawful marijuana businesses or marijuana usage in states that legalized cannabis, as well as states that enacted and enforced regulations governing state marijuana industries.