Recreational weed is now legal in California. What exactly does that change?

Spoiler: your life probably won’t change much. At least not yet...


January 3, 2018

Back on November 8, 2016, California voted to pass Prop 64, allowing the legal sale of marijuana not just for medicinal purposes, but for recreational enjoyment.

And starting on New Year’s Day, the state’s dispensaries were officially permitted to start selling.

California is now only the 5th state in the US (after WA, CO, OR and AK) to legalize recreational weed — though on a federal level, it’s still illegal. Here’s the skinny on what you need to know.

First off, what’s the law say?

Under Prop 64 (AKA, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act), 21+ year-old adults in California are legally allowed to possess up to 1 oz (28.5 g) of bud in public, and can also grow up to 6 plants at home.

Only approved dispensaries can legally sell weed (both for medicinal and recreational purposes), though anyone can simply “give it away” as a gift.

How will it affect you?

Until now, you needed a medical marijuana card to legally buy weed at a CA dispensary (medical weed has been legal in the state since ‘96). Henceforth, you should be able to waltz into any shop and buy sans card.

However, be cognizant that while possession of up to 1 oz in public is now legal, consumption is not. California’s got very strict anti-smoking laws in place, and if you’re caught burning one down in your car or on the street, you could face a $100 fine.

How will it affect the industry at large?

Prop 64 imposes hefty taxes both on the cultivation and sale of legal hulk, including a $9.25-per-ounce tax on harvested nugs, and a 15% distributor tax (i.e. weed shops) — meaning legal weed may be a tad pricey at first.

But it’s projected that legal weed in CA will grow into a $3.7B-per-year industry in 2018, and a $5.1B industry by 2019, placing it on par with statewide beer sales.

There is one roadblock: it takes forever for dispensaries to get through regulatory hoops, and right now, there are only 90 in the entire state permitted to sell weed.

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