Adult use of cannabis is legal in California under Prop. 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), approved by the voters on Nov 8, 2016. In general, AUMA allows adults 21 and over to possess, privately use, and give away up to one ounce of cannabis, and to cultivate no more than six plants for personal use at their residence (see the chart at the bottom of this page for a summary of taxes, limitations, and rights). It also legalizes the commercial sale, distribution and production of cannabis for adult use at state-licensed facilities beginning January 1, 2018, under terms spelled out in the Medical and Adult Use of Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) approved by the legislature in 2017. These regulations superseded the MCRSA, or Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act. Local city and county governments can restrict or ban cannabis businesses in their jurisdiction.
Cannabis remains legal for medical use by patients of all ages who have a physician’s recommendation under California’s 1996 medical marijuana law, Proposition 215. Prop 215 affords somewhat broader rights to possess and cultivate for personal use than AUMA. Prior to AUMA, the sale, production and distribution of medical cannabis by so-called patients’ collectives was authorized in loose terms under a law known as SB 420 (2004). However, SB 420 collectives are being phased out.
The Bureau of Cannabis Control in the Dept. of Consumer Affairs is in charge of licensing and regulating retail sales, distribution, and testing; the Dept. of Food and Agriculture is in charge of cultivation; and the Dept. of Public Health is in charge of manufacturing. Prior approval by local city or county governments is required for all state-licensed facilities. Further info on state regulations may be found at the California Cannabis Portal.
Any adult over 21 MAY:
- Possess, process, transport, purchase, obtain, or give away to persons 21 or older, not more than one ounce of cannabis or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis [HSC 11362.1(a)(1) and (2)].
- Cultivate, possess, plant, harvest, dry or process not more than six live plants per parcel (not per person) and possess the produce of the plants [HSC 11362.1(a). Any cannabis in excess of one ounce must be stored in the person’s private residential property, in a locked space, and not visible from a public place.
Local governments may impose reasonable restrictions on cultivation, but may not forbid cultivation indoors in a residence or accessory structure that is fully enclosed and secure. Locals are free to prohibit outdoor cultivation altogether until such time as adult use is made legal under federal law. (HSC 11362.2(b)).
Violation of restrictions on personal use cultivation is a $250 infraction for six plants or less [HSC 11362.4(e)].
You may NOT:
- Smoke, vaporize or ingest cannabis or cannabis products in any public place ($100 infraction).
Exception: local governments may permit on-site consumption at state-licensed premises in their jurisdiction [BPC 26200(g)].
- Smoke or vaporize cannabis in any non-smoking area, or within 1,000 feet of a school, day care or youth center while children are present, except privately at a residence. ($250 infraction)
- Consume cannabis or possess an “open container” of cannabis while driving or riding as a passenger in any motor vehicle, boat, or airplane ($250 fine). (Open containers are defined to mean any receptacle containing cannabis or cannabis products that has been opened or has a seal broken, or loose cannabis flower not in a container, except when in the trunk of the vehicle. Exception: Qualified Prop 215 patients carrying an ID card or recommendation may possess cannabis in a container that is closed or resealed [VC 23222].)
Exception: consumption by passengers may be permitted in commercial vehicles specifically licensed for such purposes without children present.
- Using Cannabis in a car is prohibited under Vehicle Code 23220 & 23221 even if you are a passenger. This is also true for cannabis edibles.
- Possess or use cannabis on the grounds of a school, day care or youth center while children are present. ($100 fine).
- Manufacture concentrated cannabis with a volatile solvent (except for state-licensed manufacturers). Volatile solvents include explosive chemicals like butane but not ethyl alcohol.
- Employers may still legally discriminate against cannabis users, whether medical or adult use.