The passage of Proposition 64 on Tuesday, Nov. 8, made it legal for individuals 21 years of age and older to use and grow marijuana for personal use as of November 9, 2016. However, the sale and taxation of recreational marijuana is not due to go into effect until January 1, 2018, so there is currently a fine line between what’s legal and what’s not.
By a margin of about 56 percent to 44 percent statewide, voters passed Proposition 64. The measure was voted down in Tulare County by the same margin.
Prop 64’s passage makes California the fifth state to legalize recreational pot, after Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska. Massachusetts and Nevada also voted to legalize pot on November 8; the measure was not approved in Arizona.
Medical marijuana has been legal in California for 20 years.
In every state with legal pot, products have to be grown and consumed in only that state because of federal prohibition of the drug. Weed cannot be taken across state lines, even from legal state to legal state.
And because marijuana remains illegal federally, it cannot be taken into, for instance, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks or onto BLM and U.S. Forest Services lands and Lake Kaweah property that is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Also because marijuana is illegal at the federal level, it can’t be mailed through the U.S. Postal Service, even if remaining in California. Private carriers, such as UPS and FedEx, have policies that they won’t ship anything that is federally illegal.
As for federal highways, such as Interstate 5, as long as the highway is in California and the weed is in a closed container that is stored away, federal authorities will most likely defer to the California Highway Patrol for enforcement as they have in other states. It still remains illegal to carry weed in any amount or manner on an airplane, even if remaining California or traveling to another state where it is legal.
For now in California, it is only legal to smoke or otherwise ingest marijuana at a private residence; it cannot be smoked in public.
A household is limited to growing up to six plants at one time, no matter how many people are residing there. And that might be the best bet for someone to obtain weed for now, either grow it or have it given to them from someone else’s six plants since it remains illegal to purchase on the black market.
Perhaps the greatest effect of pot legalization on Three Rivers will be if the Mexican cartels find that it is no longer lucrative to grow the illicit crop on the nearby public lands. It is possible that the market for Mexican marijuana will take a hit, but as long as recreational use is illegal in other states, there is the possibility that the large-scale growers will continue to take advantage of the local climate and growing conditions. The 15 percent tax that will be added to sales from the pot shops that spring up as of January 1, 2018, might keep some customer loyalty to the black market but that comes with the risk of prosecution.
Edibles (foods, such as candy and cookies, that contain marijuana), their dosage, childproof packaging, and the appeal to children are issues that will be addressed via regulations.
And, as always, it is illegal to operate a vehicle, boat, or any motorized means of transportation while impaired. The California Highway Patrol will develop procedures for determining if a driver is impaired by marijuana.