Marijuana is legal in the state of California. Specifically:
- If you are 18 or older, you can get a physician’s recommendation and prescription for medicinal use.
- If you are 21 or older, you can purchase marijuana from a dispensary for recreational use.
- If you are younger than 18, it is illegal to use and possess marijuana, similar to the laws with minors and alcohol.
Each city and county may have slightly different laws pertaining to the details of marijuana use and possession, so it would be smart to figure out what those laws are for your county and/or city. It is also important to know that marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. Be cautious of that when you travel across state lines and when you visit federal lands like a national park (essentially, do not bring your marijuana with you).
Where Can You Smoke Marijuana?
Even though marijuana is legal throughout the golden state, that does not mean you can smoke it whenever and wherever you want. Marijuana use has similar laws to smoking tobacco. For instance, you are strictly prohibited from smoking cannabis within 1,000 feet of a school or daycare center since there are children in the vicinity, which could be harmful to them. Public places like bars and restaurants are off-limits and can disturb the other patrons in the establishment.
Most jobs will not allow you to smoke or be high on the clock, but you can still confer with them to have a clearer picture of what is allowed and what is not. If you rent your house or apartment, it is up to the property owner to decide whether you can smoke cannabis. It is important to check in with them to better understand the rules.
Otherwise, if there are no restrictions in your lease or you own your own home, you are permitted to smoke as you please.
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What Are the Laws for Driving with Cannabis?
According to California state law, you are strictly prohibited from driving or riding in a vehicle with either an open container of marijuana or just having weed sitting out on a seat or middle console. If you are coming back from a dispensary and are transporting cannabis, it needs to be in a sealed package or container or stored away in the trunk of the car. Law enforcement still has every right to pull you over and conduct a sobriety test if they suspect you are driving while impaired.
Penalties for Driving While Intoxicated
It is imperative to know that driving while high on cannabis is strictly illegal. This is because it is still a DUI, and you can end up harming/killing yourself, your passengers, or other drivers on the road if you decide to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. According to California’s vehicle code, the penalties for a DUI in the state are as follows:
- 1st DUI – No more than six months in jail and fines between $390 to $1000
- 2nd DUI – 96 hours to 1 year in jail and fines between $390 to $1000
- 3rd DUI – 120 days to 1 year in jail and fines between $390 to $1000
- Misdemeanor DUI with Injury – 5 days to 1 year in jail and fines between $390 to $5000
- Felony DUI – 16 months to 3 years in state prison and fines between $390 to $1000
- Felony DUI with Injury – 16 months to 16 years in state prison and fines between $1015 to $5000
With all these different types of DUIs, they can also come with punishments regarding having your driver’s license suspended or revoked and having to attend a DUI school. Even though you think that you might be sober enough after smoking some weed with your friends, do not risk it. Have a sober friend or family member drive you.
What Are the Penalties for Selling, Transporting, or Importing Marijuana?
In accordance with California’s marijuana legalization law, you are not permitted to sell the drug to your friends and family members because you need a license and a dispensary business for commercial selling. These laws are put in place not only to protect the safety and well-being of Californians but to protect commercial businesses from black markets popping up and hurting the economic implications of the cannabis industry.
If you are caught with the unlicensed sale and/or transport of marijuana, and you are a first-time offender, then you could face misdemeanor charges with penalties of up to 6 months in county jail and fines of up to $1000. If you have any prior convictions (especially with drug-related crimes), you could face a punishment of 2 to 4 years in jail and fines of over $1000. If you are caught trying to sell marijuana to a minor (anyone under 18), this is a felony, and you could be penalized with 3 to 7 years in state prison.
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What Is Concentrated Cannabis?
Concentrated cannabis (also known as “hash”) is a more potent form of marijuana because it is a resin extracted from marijuana plants. It has a higher amount of THC (the main chemical in cannabis that delivers the high for users). In November 2016, when Californians voted to decriminalize marijuana for recreational use, the state laws were amended to reflect concentrated cannabis as legal following certain provisions.
- You must be 21 or older to possess concentrated cannabis.
- You are allowed to have 4 grams or less (anything more is considered an illegal amount).
- You cannot sell it or give it away (for personal use only, otherwise it would be drug dealing).
- You cannot transport it across state lines (still illegal on the federal level).
- You are strictly prohibited from importing or exporting it (that would be considered drug smuggling).
Although concentrated cannabis is legal in some capacity in California, it is still wise to be cautious about your age, how much you possess, and where you take it.