Is Weed Legal in California – Yes!
Yes, cannabis (weed) is legal in California. Although many people still wonder, “Is weed legal in California?”, in 2016 California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 64, making it legal for all adults 21 and older to recreationally grow, consume and possess marijuana. At that time, California joined eight other states that had legalized recreational marijuana. Fast forward to 2019 and that number is now up to 10 states and the District of Columbia.
On New Year’s Day 2018, cannabis prohibition officially ended in California and dispensaries began selling recreational marijuana. But just because you can legally buy bud doesn’t mean you can score pounds of dank and blaze wherever you want. When it comes to the Who, What and Where of legal weed in The Golden State — there are some specifics worth noting to ensure you keep everything on the up and up.
Let’s do a quick review.
Who can buy weed?
One of the most common questions we get is, “is weed legal in California”, along with “who can purchase cannabis and how old do I have to be to purchase it?” So here it is cut and dry. All adults 21+ can buy weed at any licensed dispensary; some dispensaries even have a delivery service so you don’t even need to leave your house. To purchase pot, you don’t even need to be a California resident, you just need a valid government issued ID – like a driver’s license or passport to prove your age.
Adults 18+ can still buy medical marijuana with a valid ID as outlined above — and a physician’s recommendation. Medical marijuana patients and their caregivers can possess much more than their recreational counterparts (8oz vs 1oz) and it’s recommended to have a Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC) to avoid any confusion with the law enforcement.
Know before you go
It’s unfortunate, but currently only 20% of cities in California have a dispensary. Some local governments are banning cannabis altogether, while others haven’t filed the paperwork required by the State — so dispensary availability can vary greatly from town to town. If you are looking a list specifically for San Diego, check out our comprehensive map and San Diego Dispensary List. There are a ton of other cool websites that map out where to find a dispensary near you.
What goodies can I buy?
First, let’s go over some pot basics. Here are the main types of weed —
- Indica – Reduces stress and produces feelings of relaxation. A good way to remember this strain is to think about sinking into your couch in relaxation – just remember: Indica = in-da-couch.
- Sativa – Promotes a sense of well-being and uplifts your mind.
- Hybrid – A crossbreed of Indica/Sativa that produces a mix of both highs.
Cannabis products are grouped into four main categories — flower, edibles, concentrates, and applications.
- Flower – Refers to the dried buds of the marijuana plant itself. These delectable nuggets come in a myriad of strains with cool names like Blue Dream, Girl Scout Cookies and Skywalker OG. There are many websites that provide online resources to better understand marijuana strains. Flower can be smoked as a joint or out of a pipe or bong. You can even smoke out of your favorite fruit or vegetable!
- Edibles – The name sums it up — anything you can ingest. Edibles are made with weed extracts (THC & CBD). These can come in the form of baked goods, candies, lozenges and mints, and beverages like pot-infused hot chocolate and BEER!
*Tip* since edibles have to be absorbed by your digestive system, it can take much longer to feel the effects (can take up to two hours or so). Many pot newbies make the mistake of consuming too many edibles if they don’t feel anything right away. This will not make you high any faster and will definitely harsh your mellow. Patience is key here. Start low, and go slow!
- Concentrates – These are extractions made from trichomes. Trichomes (the little white hairs you see on pot leaves) are actually resin glands and are filled with amazing chemical compounds like cannabinoids and terpenes. Concentrates are popular because they provide all the benefits of marijuana, without the smoke and tar from blazing. They come in a wide range of products like kief, dabs, and oils. One of the easiest ways to enjoy concentrates is with a vape pen. Vape pens function by heating cannabis infused oil until it vaporizes. Vape pens come with an internal rechargeable battery that can be charged on any USB port.
- Applications – These are made from extractions and are meant to be absorbed through the skin. They are usually made with a higher CBD – lower THC mixture and are used to treat everything from physical aches and pains to anxiety and depression.
Where can I buy weed?
If you want to buy weed in California you will need to go to a licensed dispensary. Almost every dispensary will have a front desk, where you will present your ID to prove you’re at least 21 (18 for medical marijuana patients). They may ask for you to wait your turn in the lobby until it’s time to be called back into the main part of the store. Once you are called back, take all the time and ask as many questions as you need to make a selection. Dispensaries pride themselves on taking care of their customers — so relax and explore all the awesomeness.
The friendly folks behind the counter at dispensaries are called budtenders. Budtenders are very pot-savvy and can help you pick out the best cannabis products to enjoy, whether you want a giggly, euphoric high or you want to chill on the couch and binge watch all the movies. California law allows you to buy up to 1 oz of recreational bud, or up to 8 grams of concentrated cannabis. An ounce of bud doesn’t sound like a lot, but for reference, you can roll approximately 30 joints with that much weed.
*Tip* The majority of dispensaries only accept cash – although some are now accepting credit cards.
Another way to purchase marijuana is through a delivery service like Eaze. You can go online or download an app to your phone. You will then enter some basic information about yourself, upload your ID, order your goodies – and boom! You’re done. Expect your order to be delivered in an hour or so.
Where can I smoke weed?
Here’s where things can get a bit tricky — so pay close attention. Just like you can’t walk down the street with a beer sloshing around in your hand, you cannot consume cannabis in public — however there are exceptions to this rule.
- Consider taking a cannabis tour. West Coast Cannabis Tours offers half-day luxury excursions, aboard tricked-out tour buses where you will be allowed and encouraged to enjoy all your purchases. You will be treated to a VIP dispensary tour, live glass blowing demonstration and a grow-your-own cultivation experience.
- You can attend an event that allows controlled public consumption like 420 fest .
Weed cannot be smoked on Federal land like a National Forest or National Park — or anywhere banning cigarette smoking. You explicitly cannot smoke it in your car — proposition 64 has specific language banning consumption in your vehicle. If you transport cannabis, it will need to be in a sealed container (think of open-container laws for beer) or stored in your trunk. Lastly, employers reserve the right to determine if they are cool with their employees blazing so check with your job if you want to be absolutely sure.
Who can grow weed?
For medical use, medical marijuana patients and their caregivers who are 18+ can grow six mature plants, 12 immature plants — or with a physician’s recommendation “a greater amount consistent with the patient’s reasonable needs”. For recreational use, the law allows adults 21+ to grow 6 plants per parcel of land – not per person or per household. The plants cannot be grown outside and must be grown in a locked building and away from public view (you don’t need people on the street eyeballing your dank crops anyways).
The most important thing to remember is you can gift your weed, but you CANNOT sell it.
What does it look like for the future of cannabis?
How is weed legal in California but not federally you ask? Yes — sigh — yes, sadly it is federally not yet there. But don’t despair, the current US Attorney General William Barr recently pledged to honor cannabis businesses that comply with State laws — a complete reversal from former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ war on weed. So, despite past rumors of Federal agents raiding dispensaries, that will not happen. Additionally, there is a growing trend in Washington, DC towards Federal weed tolerance — with current bi-partisan congressional support gaining traction to honor States that have voted to legalize marijuana.
This means good news for the cannabis culture moving forward!
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