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Is Cannabis Legal in California?


California Cannabis Legality

There’s no denying that the cannabis industry is on the rise and always changing. These factors can make it challenging to keep track of cannabis laws. Understanding cannabis’s legal status in your state is fundamental in helping you decide whether you can open a cannabis business and how to do so lawfully.

The Legal Status of Cannabis in California

Both medical and recreational cannabis are legal in California. It was the first state in the U.S. to decriminalize the use of medical cannabis — recreational cannabis sales became legal in 2018. If you’re 18 or older, you can purchase medical cannabis with the proper identification. Anyone 21 and older can purchase recreational cannabis. The maximum amount of recreational cannabis a person can buy per day is 28.5 grams of cannabis plant material and 8 grams of cannabis concentrate, and the limits are higher for medical cannabis.

California’s cannabis possession penalties for personal use are less severe than the sentences and fines of many other states. These charges include the following:

  • Possessing more than 28.5 grams of cannabis is a misdemeanor that comes with a six-month sentence and/or a maximum $500 fine.
  • Possessing 28.5 grams of cannabis or less as someone under the age of 18 is an infraction that comes with community service and drug education or counseling.
  • Possessing 28.5 grams of cannabis or less on school grounds as someone under the age of 18 is an infraction that comes with community service and drug education or counseling.

Other penalties to be aware of regard possession with intent to distribute, hash and concentrate, sales of cannabis without a license, cultivation for sale without a license, and more.

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Is Medical Cannabis Legal in California?

Anyone at least 18 years old can use medical cannabis as long as they have a physician’s recommendation or medical marijuana identification card (or MMIC). Minors can have a primary caregiver apply for a medical marijuana identification card on their behalf. Individual qualified patients and their primary caregivers can purchase up to 8 ounces of dried cannabis for medical use per day.

Is Cannabis Decriminalized in California?

“Decriminalization” refers to reducing the criminal offenses associated with the possession of cannabis. The goal of decriminalization is to reduce cannabis-related arrests. Some states, counties and cities decriminalize cannabis but don’t legalize it — though cannabis is illegal, the legal penalties aren’t as severe if someone is caught with it.

Since cannabis is legal for medical and recreational use in California, it’s already decriminalized if purchased and used in compliance with state and local cannabis laws.

Can You Smoke Cannabis in Public in California?

As in many other states, you can’t legally use cannabis in public spaces in California. It’s illegal to smoke cannabis in locations where it’s illegal to smoke tobacco, as well as within 1,000 feet of a school, youth center, or daycare when children are in the vicinity.

While individuals can use cannabis on private property, property owners can ban the use of cannabis for tenants or guests. Other legal restrictions pertaining to cannabis use exist in specific counties and cities within California.

Choose Harris Sliwoski for Legal Assistance

Harris Sliwoski has assisted businesses with cannabis-related matters in California and beyond since 2010. Contact us today to learn more about how our professional legal team can get your commercial cannabis operation off the ground in California.

Can You Grow Cannabis in California?

Yes, cultivating cannabis is legal for limited personal use as well as for commercial sales with proper licenses in California.

Personal Cannabis Growth

Anyone 21 or older can grow up to six cannabis plants for personal use, whether medicinal or recreational, on their private properties. This is the limit per property, no matter how many people 21 or older live there. Know that some counties and cities have specific restrictions regarding how you can grow cannabis plants and whether you need a permit.

It’s still illegal to sell cannabis yielded from personal plants. While you can gift cannabis to other adults 21 or older without any kind of compensation, it can’t be greater than 28.5 grams of cannabis or eight grams of concentrated cannabis.

Commercial Cannabis Growth

Those who want to cultivate and sell cannabis in California must obtain a cultivation license. The kind of cultivation license you need depends on the size of your operation, your cultivation processes, and other factors. Other certifications, such as a water permit, are also necessary. Commercial cultivation can only be done in specific commercial premises or farms and not in residences or on public property.

Whether you’re starting your first cannabis business or have plans to expand to California, it helps to have a team of legal experts behind you — like the ones at Harris Sliwoski — so you can navigate the ever-evolving cannabis laws in the state.

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Is CBD Oil Legal in California?

Certain kinds of cannabidiol (CBD) products are legal in California — you can purchase permitted CBD products made from hemp, and CBD products made from cannabis but only in licensed dispensaries. People in California can purchase various kinds of CBD-based products, including food and beverages, which differs from Food and Drug Administration guidance on the matter.

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