7 Things to Know About Cannabis Possession in California


On January 1, 2018, California’s recreational marijuana laws came into force. With this, it became the sixth American state to sell marijuana to people 21 years or older. It also means that no one will need to go in to a store with a doctor’s prescription to buy marijuana from licensed stores.

The problem is, Californians are not well aware of the nuances of cannabis laws. The problem, when faced with a strict law enforcement office, a loved one could end up in trouble, and the next thing you know, you’d be searching inmate records in Martinez Prison or any other Californian prison, to see if that’s where your friend is, waiting for help.

1. Buying and Selling Cannabis

Individuals 21 years and more can legally carry, buy, sell and grow cannabis to the tune of 28.5 gm. of cannabis and a maximum of 8 gm. of concentrated cannabis found in candies, breakfast bars and brownies. Individuals can only buy cannabis from stores licensed by the California Bureau of Cannabis Control. Californians can legally possess cannabis but cannot sell it in the absence of a license.

In order to be eligible to buy legal cannabis in California, it is important to show certain documents. First, documents that prove an individual’s age is 21 or more or a driver’s license. All transactions are done in cash, so cards don’t work here. Further, you will need to go to a licensed store, which means they remain shut between 10 pm and 6 am.

2. Driving Under the Influence

Though recreational cannabis is legal in California, yet driving under its influence is still illegal. If one is caught driving under the influence of cannabis, he or she is subject to penalties ranging from informal probation to suspension of license or even some amount of jail time.

3. Growing and Possessing Cannabis

Adults can only plant, harvest, dry, process and possess a maximum of six living plants of cannabis on their estates. These plants must be kept confined in a locked space, not easily visible to others. Outdoor cultivation of cannabis may be prohibited by cities and counties and by landlords and property owners.

4. Consuming Cannabis

One cannot use cannabis within a radius of 1000 feet of a day care centre, school or youth centre in the presence of children. Though legal under Californian law, yet employers can prohibit their employees from using cannabis while at work.

It is legal to consume cannabis on private property but not in public. Though you can consume it on private property, yet you cannot consume it, or eat, smoke or vape cannabis in public places. Despite it being legal in California, it cannot be consumed or held in one’s possession in national parks or other such federal properties in California.

Also, you cannot take it out of the state limits, when travelling from California to any other state where its use is legal. Further, it is not legal to smoke cannabis in those places where tobacco smoking is already prohibited. Certain cities are now considering permits for cafes and lounges where cannabis smoking would be legal, as in San Francisco and Oakland.

So, where can one consume cannabis?

Cannabis can be legally consumed at:

  • Private homes
  • Additional structures located on the grounds of private homes that are away and safe from the public and enclosed
  • On a private residence and in the outdoors in those cities or counties where such actions are not legally prohibited

5. On the Road with Cannabis 

If you consume cannabis before driving your car, or operating your boat or any other vehicle, you could be subject to a law enforcement officer asking you to pull over to the side of the road for a sobriety test. All violators of this law are subject to normal DUI laws.

If, while driving, you are caught with an open container of cannabis, you could be punished and made to pay a fine of $70. This also applies to those in the passenger seats. Any cannabis you drive with or are in possession of when driving must be in a sealed and an approved pack or container. Else, it should be stored in the trunk.

6. Flying with Cannabis

California law states that it is illegal to send cannabis out of the state or city by plane, even if it is wanted for medical treatment. This includes air trips within the state and to those states that have already legalized its use.

Although it is illegal to have it in one’s possession when aboard a plane, yet the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says that usually security officers don’t specifically look for cannabis or marijuana or any other drugs.

According to the organization, screeners at airports look for those things that can affect an airplane’s efficiency in the skies, not specifically cannabis. However, this doesn’t mean one is safe to fly with it. After all, TSA sniffer dogs look not only for explosives in one’s luggage but also illegal substances like cannabis. So, the bottom line is that flying with cannabis is illegal.

7. No advertisements for cannabis on TV and elsewhere

According to Proposition 64 or the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), billboard advertising and TV advertising for cannabis are prohibited. Billboard ads on highways are included under this law.

Concluding Remarks

For a Californian, it is necessary to know the updated laws regarding procuring, consuming and advertising cannabis. Any ignorance on such subjects can cost one dearly in jail term and money.

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