California

(Last update: November 5, 2018)

Medical Marijuana: Yes

Recreational Marijuana: Yes

Decriminalized: -

In-Home Cultivation: -


State Bureau of Cannabis Control continues to consider rules

California’s work establishing a regulated cannabis program for adults continues. State regulators are now considering a permanent set of rules to govern cannabis business activity (which so far have been operating under temporarily adopted rules). As of July 1, all cannabis products sold must meet state testing standards. It was a rough milestone for many, as businesses were forced to destroy all products that had not previously gone through the testing process.

Meanwhile, lawmakers are well into this year’s legislative session, with several bills already passing while others remain under consideration. Here are some highlights:

  1. SB 1294requires the state to support local equity applicants – those applicants who are from areas that have been negatively and disproportionately impacted by the criminalization of cannabis. The measure offers assistance to equity applicants in securing business locations and low- or no-interest loans and was signed into law in September.
  2. AB 1793, will automatically remove (or expunge) cannabis-related offenses from individuals’ criminal histories, if the original offense was later made legal under state law.
  3. AB 2641, a measure that would allow local jurisdictions to authorize temporary cannabis-related events, even allowing local authorities to allow consumption such as smoking or vaping under certain circumstances. It is not yet clear if this measure will pass this year.

The current legal status of marijuana in California

Until the 2016 Election Day vote, possessing up to an ounce or less of marijuana was a civil infraction similar to a speeding ticket. Following the vote, possession of an ounce or less and the secure cultivation of up to six plants is lawful for all adults 21 and over.

At the same time, the state’s medical marijuana protections continue, and a regulatory system is being implemented for medical marijuana businesses in tandem with the non-medical program, but without the same tax burden.

Timeline of marijuana policy reform in California

1996: Voters approved the Compassionate Use Act, allowing for the medical use of marijuana.

2003: California’s legislature expanded the state’s medical marijuana law to allow patients and caregivers to collectively or cooperatively cultivate marijuana.

2015: California’s legislature enacted a licensing and regulatory system for medical marijuana businesses.

2016: Voters approved a ballot initiative legalizing marijuana for adults and establishing a regulated marijuana market.

2017: Licensing and regulatory system for medical marijuana businesses is paired with similar regulatory system being developed for non-medical, now under one agency.

2018: First legal sales for adult consumers began!