If you live in California, you have probably heard about the recent passing of proposition 64, also known as the legalization of recreational marijuana (also referred to as weed or pot) usage. Even though Californians can now grow and possess marijuana legally, they cannot purchase marijuana (unless it is for medical usage) until Jan 1st 2018, when the state begins to issue retail licenses. California State Officials estimate that it may take around a year to fully develop the regulations that will apply to businesses that are involved in the growing, transporting, testing, and selling of recreational marijuana in California.
Things to be aware of if you live in California:
- Not everyone can legally consume marijuana:
This new law only allows adults of 21 years or older to legally consume marijuana recreationally. If you have a medical condition that requires the usage of medical marijuana, you can legally consume it, even if you are under the age of 21. This proposition was written to keep children from smoking marijuana. Marijuana may not be packaged in a way that it could be confused for candy. Marijuana must be packaged in a child-resistant container. If minors are caught violating the rules of this proposition, they will be forced to complete a four-hour drug-education program, counseling, and up to 10 years of court-mandated community service.
- You cannot smoke anywhere:
Yes, smoking marijuana is legal. However, that does not mean you can smoke anywhere. Under the law, smoking is prohibited in public areas, unless allowed by local ordinance. Moreover, recreational marijuana cannot be smoked anywhere tobacco is already prohibited. In addition, smoking marijuana 1,000 feet from a school, day care, or anywhere relating to children is strictly illegal. If you are caught smoking marijuana in public, you will be fined $100. And, if you are caught smoking marijuana in an area that tobacco is prohibited or near a school or daycare, you may be fined up to $250.
- You may not sell marijuana without the necessary licenses:
Anyone who grows for others, processes, transports, or sells recreational marijuana needs specific required licenses. People in charge of running a recreational marijuana businesses will have to undergo lengthy background checks in order to obtain their licenses. People will be denied licenses if they have prior felony convictions involving drug trafficking, violence, fraud, or selling drugs to minors. The state Bureau of Marijuana Control inside of the state Department of Consumer Affairs is responsible for creating, issuing, renewing, and revoking licenses. In addition, those seeking to grow marijuana will have to get a license from the state Department of Food and Agriculture. Those seeking to test marijuana products will need to obtain a license from the state Department of Public Health. Additionally, a fee (to be determined) will be set for those who seek a license. Businesses would not be able to sell marijuana within 600 feet of a school. If you are found responsible for selling marijuana without a proper license, you could be charged with jail time up to six months and a $500 fine.
- Cities and counties are allowed to impose their own tax:
Under the proposition, the state of California would impose a 15% excise tax on the retail sale of marijuana. Cultivation taxes will be $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce for leaves. In addition, the proposition will allow cities and counties to impose their own personal tax, to help cover costs of services and enforcement. Medical marijuana users are exempt from the state sales taxes.
- Impaired driving is STILL illegal:
If you are found guilty of breaking vehicle code 23152, which states, “It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug [including marijuana] to drive a vehicle,” you will be facing the same penalties as an alcohol DUI. These penalties may include probation (3-5 years), 96 hours-6 months of county jail time, a fine between $390-$1,000, a license suspension of up to 6 months. Penalties will increase with each additional DUI conviction, including alcohol or marijuana. Evidence of a marijuana DUI can include chemical test results, driving patterns, statements to police, physical appearance, field sobriety tests, or the presence of marijuana or paraphernalia at the scene.
These laws exist in order to continue keep California safe. It is important to abide by these laws to keep our community and children safe from harm and to avoid serious legal consequences. If you witness any breaking of these laws, contact your local police department. If you are a victim in an accident due to a person being under the influence of marijuana, know your rights and contact a professional injury lawyer!
Have a serious injury and need legal advice? Contact Howard Blau.