On November 8, 2016, Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, was approved by California voters. The law allows anyone 21 and over to use, possess, grow, and transport cannabis. These rights went into effect immediately on November 9th.
Individuals can possess up to 28.5 grams of raw cannabis and 8 grams of concentrate, and can grow up to six plants in a private home given the plants are not publicly visible.
Retail sales of cannabis to individuals 21 and over will not begin until January 2018. For now, the benefits and protections offered to medical cannabis patients should significantly improve their lives and increase overall safety.
As the law states, anyone over 21 can now legally cultivate cannabis. Even under Proposition 215, cities and towns were still able to ban home cultivation for patients, leaving them with few options for acquiring affordable medicine. These restrictions are now tremendously diminished in power due to the passage of Prop 64.
However, patients under 21 still cannot legally grow in some areas, and patients requiring more than six plants would not be allowed to grow them in areas with harsh limits or bans.
Like in Colorado, where cannabis prices dropped significantly once increased cultivation was allowed, it is very likely that prices will eventually drop in California. Until then, patients can take advantage of immediate savings by registering for a Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC) from the California Department of Public Health.
Showing this card during purchase of medical cannabis exempts patients from sales and use tax, which ultimately can save hundreds of dollars or more per year.
Prior to legalization, patients with 215 recommendations were still seen by police as potential criminals until their documentation was verified. This means that patients were subject to uncomfortable police interactions and vehicle searches based on the smell of cannabis.
Under Prop 64, the smell of cannabis is no longer sufficient probable cause for searches. Due to some nuances of the open container clause of the law, which prohibits consumption or possession of an “open container” of cannabis while driving or riding as a passenger, overt odors may still warrant searches by police.
However, these instances should decrease under Prop 64, and can largely be avoided by traveling with cannabis in a smell-proof container.
One of the most important protections is from Child Protective Services. Under Prop 64, use of cannabis by one or both parents no longer warrants the seizure of children, just as drinking alcohol is not a valid cause for taking children.
This has been a serious source of worry for many legitimate medical cannabis patients, and this new protection will tremendously lighten the load.
After January 2018, California’s economy may receive a boost by becoming a global destination of medical tourism. Only citizens of the United States can qualify for medical cannabis recommendations, but anyone 21 or over, regardless of national origin, will be able to purchase cannabis from adult-use stores.
As in Colorado, it is expected that many medical-type products, such as CBD-rich medicines, will be available in these stores.
The benefits of Prop 64 for patients is clear, and all residents of California will indirectly benefit from the law through the increased tax revenue it collects, among other benefits. Only time will tell how far the effects of Prop 64 reach, but the future is definitely promising.