Recreational vs. Medical Marijuana: Legal Distinctions in California

Is Marijuana Illegal in California?

California has always been a forward-thinking state. California led the pack when it came to medical marijuana. California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana, making it legal for medical use all the way back in 1996 with Proposition 215, known as the "Compassionate Use Act."

California went on to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in 2016. There are still specific laws that govern both the recreational use of marijuana and the medical use of marijuana. To confuse things even further, marijuana is still considered illegal by the United States federal government.

It is understandable if it is already hard to understand the differences between medical and recreational use of marijuana and where it all falls when it comes to the federal scope.

What are California's Recreational Marijuana Laws?

California legalized the recreational use of medical marijuana in 2016, 20 years after the state legalized medical marijuana.

You may be wondering what the laws are when it comes to the legalization of recreational use. Broadly speaking, it is legal for anyone in California to purchase, possess, and use marijuana.

It is illegal to smoke marijuana anywhere where it is illegal to smoke tobacco. This means it is illegal to smoke marijuana in all government and private workplaces. It is also illegal to smoke it inside public schools, restaurants, bars, casinos, stores, or recreational facilities. Furthermore, it is illegal to smoke marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school or daycare center while children are present.

When it comes to rental properties, it is left to the property owner's discretion whether they would like to ban the use of marijuana in their properties. This is the same for hotel rentals. If you are unsure, ask the hotel ahead of time to avoid any surprise charges or issues.

It is illegal for a driver or passenger of a vehicle to possess an open container of marijuana. The safe and legal way to transport marijuana in a moving vehicle is in a sealed container. If the container has already been opened, then it must be stored in the trunk of the vehicle or somewhere else passengers of the vehicle are not. It can not be stored in a glovebox.

Anyone in California may grow up to six cannabis plants in their home as long as they are 21 years of age or older. It is pivotal to check any local city or county guidelines to ensure the legality of growing cannabis in your home.

Speaking of city and county laws, different cities and counties may have stricter laws about marijuana than the state as a whole. City and county website will have their laws regarding marijuana listed on their government websites. It is important to study these laws as ignorance is not a good enough defense when illegally possessing marijuana.

A person can legally possess up to 28.5 g of marijuana flower, 8 g of hash and concentrates, and cultivate up to six plants.

What are California's Medical Marijuana Laws?

After California passed its recreational marijuana laws, its legislature also passed the "Medical and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act.” This new legislation created a combined regulatory body for both medical and recreational marijuana. These rules regulate the for-profit cultivation, production, sale, and dispensary of marijuana. These rules largely do not affect individuals.

Because both medical and recreational marijuana are governed by a single set of rules in California, there are only a few differences in regard to medical and recreational use laws in California.

Medical marijuana card ID card holders are exempt from paying taxes when purchasing marijuana products.

A person who has been prescribed marijuana as a treatment for a medical condition will learn the amounts they are allowed to purchase, possess, or grow. This means there are no set limits. Instead, the prescribing doctor will set the limits with the stipulation that the amount must be "consistent with the patient's needs."

How Does Someone Get a Medical Marijuana ID Card?

Medical marijuana cards are optional in the state of California now that marijuana can be sold for recreational use. However, it can still be helpful for patients who rely on it for treatment.

The only thing needed to be given a medical marijuana ID card is a doctor's recommendation. Cards are issued by the county Department of Public Health with a $100 annual recurring fee.

Where Can Marijuana be Bought?

Marijuana can be purchased from any retailer possessing a license from the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC). This helps ensure all products are tested, THC and CBD levels are accurately labeled and prevents the sale of marijuana products to minors.

Can Someone be Fired for Marijuana Use?

Lawmakers passed legislation AB 2188 in 2022. This is a set of laws that protect people who may use marijuana.

According to AB 2188, "it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penalize a person if the discrimination is based upon the person's use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace."

This law will not take effect until September 1, 2024, in order to give employers the opportunity to enact and change their policies regarding marijuana.

Protecting Your Rights

California is a forward-thinking state with the longest standing medical marijuana laws and legal recreational use. That does not mean there will never be conflict surrounding the use of marijuana, whether recreationally or for medical reasons.

If you have been unfairly targeted for the legal use of marijuana, call the office of Hurwitz Law Group at 323-310-9677 to schedule a free consultation. The skilled lawyers of Hurwitz Lawgroup are experienced with California's intricate marijuana laws and can ensure your rights are protected.

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