If Californians vote to pass Proposition 64 on Tuesday, even the end of marijuana prohibition the next day would have its limitations.
Proposition 64, known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, would take effect immediately upon its passage, giving adults over 21 new rights to use, possess, transport and grow certain amounts of nonmedical marijuana. But retail locations for recreational marijuana will not be opening until January 2018 at the earliest, leaving a year-long gap before California residents can legally buy the product.
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“This issue comes up when a state legalizes cannabis for the first time, which is: Where does it come from?” said Lance Rogers, a partner with the GreenSpoon Marder cannabis law firm.
The most legal path is through gifting and medical cannabis growers, Rogers said.
Under the proposition, people in California would be allowed to possess up to an ounce of dried cannabis flowers and 8 grams of cannabis concentrate. They would also be allowed to give that amount of cannabis away as a gift to someone 21 years or older in California.
For those that want to take advantage of the proposition’s allowance to grow up to six plants indoors — or outdoors depending on local government restrictions — finding seeds will be another issue. Those who are already grow medical cannabis would be able to exercise their right to grow six additional plants for recreational use, and would be able to give the nonmedical seeds away, Rogers said.
“There will be this gray period where local agencies will have to determine the differences between individuals involved in activities under current medical laws and those involved in activities that are lawful under Proposition 64,” Rogers said. “The plant doesn’t know the difference. It’s not clear where the distinctions will be made under the law.”
Those who already have ready access to cannabis must also know that there are restrictions on where it can be used. Proposition 64 only allows for consumption of marijuana to take place at a private residence or licensed businesses, which won’t be available until 2018.
On top of that, Eureka Police Capt. Steve Watson said that some local laws also prohibit smoking in public areas, be it cannabis or any other substance.
“It’s not going to be open season where you can be walking around smoking a bowl on the streets in front of businesses,” he said. “Whatever the applicable law is, be it state or local, EPD will continue to enforce both the local and state law on marijuana use post-legalization.”
Watson, who is one of several local law enforcement officials that have come out against Proposition 64, said their biggest concern is people driving under the influence of marijuana, which he reminded is still illegal despite there not being a standardized roadside sobriety test.
“The important message here is to be careful and know that marijuana can impact your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle,” he said.
Proposition 64’s passage would also immediately implement criminal justice reforms, such as resentencing for non-serious marijuana offenses, and add new privacy protections for medical marijuana patients.
BREAKING DOWN PROPOSITION 64
New allowances under Proposition 64 that take effect on Wednesday and on Jan. 1, 2018, assuming the measure passes.
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
• Adults 21 and older allowed to possess, transport, purchase, and use up to an ounce of dried marijuana flowers and 8 grams of cannabis concentrates.
• Adults 21 and older can grow up to 6 marijuana plants indoors. Outdoor cultivation subject to local restrictions.
• Criminal penalties for non-serious marijuana-related offenses, such as possession of more than 1 ounce of marijuana, are reduced to misdemeanors.
• Persons with prior marijuana-related convictions can petition the court to have their record cleared or changed to reflect the new laws.
• Personal information of medical marijuana patients disclosed to state and local health departments protected under the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act.
• Medical marijuana patients cannot lose their custodial or parental rights solely based on status as medical marijuana patient.
• The California Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation is renamed Bureau of Marijuana Control.
• Powers and duties of the Department of Consumer Affairs, Department of Public Health, and Department of Food and Agriculture are expanded to include the regulation and control of the nonmedical marijuana industry.
• The Department of Food and Agriculture authorized to begin regulating the cultivation, manufacture, and sale of industrial hemp.
Jan. 1, 2018
• State commercial cultivation and retail excise taxes take effect.
• Sales of medical marijuana to patients with valid medical marijuana ID cards become exempt from existing state sales and use tax.
• State agencies charged with licensing of non-medical marijuana businesses must begin issuing licenses no later than this date.
• Medical marijuana patients must obtain a new recommendation that meets the new requirements in the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act.
Source: Yes on Proposition 64
Will Houston can be reached at 707-441-0504.