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All You Need to Know about California’s Recreational Marijuana

In November 2016, the people of California voted to pass Proposition 64, making recreational marijuana along with medicinal marijuana. The law officially went into effect on January 1, 2018, and many were disappointed to find that marijuana wasn’t as available as they thought that it would be, or that they were left out of it altogether.

How much marijuana can you buy?

One of the most disappointing aspects of the new law for residents of California was that recreational marijuana is still not as available as they thought it would be. This is because only a few of the state’s cities have passed legislation allowing businesses to sell marijuana including San Diego, San Jose, and Oakland. As time stretches on from that first day when marijuana became legal, more and more cities are passing the legislation that will make it possible for dispensaries to be set up and sell marijuana.


But even those going to buy recreational marijuana are facing disappointment when they do find a dispensary that has gotten the approval, and the proper licenses, to sell it. This is because the law only allows people to purchase up to one ounce per day, which can make it difficult for those travelling outside of their city for an extended period of time.

Another problem facing those that want to buy marijuana is that they may not be completely protected when they do go to pick up their stash.

Consumer protection is still blurry

Privacy concerns start with one of the policies dispensaries must follow whenever someone purchases marijuana from them. That’s the fact that all customers must provide photo ID, typically in the form of a passport or a valid driver’s license.

The biggest worry with this is that, if the dispensary does dot not destroy the information after the customer leaves, the federal government could shut the dispensary down and require that they hand over all of that information. And that has some worried that even though recreational marijuana is legal in California, it’s still not federally legal, which could leave them open to repercussions in the future.


But it’s not just the government buyers are worried about. Some shops go one step further when requiring a customer’s information, including phone numbers and the customer’s date of birth. This is not required by law and if a shop asks for it, it’s most likely for marketing purposes. While it’s not entirely clear how a shop would use this information, the very fact that all of that information is recorded and kept is enough to make some consumers uneasy.

Another one of the legal policies that’s making customers uneasy is the fact that they can’t help but noticing the video cameras bearing down on them while they are making the transaction. Under the law, the cameras must be set up to capture the customer, the cashier, and the details of the entire transaction. People often don’t want to think that they can be identified simply for buying recreational marijuana and again, they often just don’t want their picture out there.

But the recreational marijuana problems in California extend beyond the shop. Cultivators, or those growing marijuana, are also finding that they’re running into problems.

Most cultivators do not have a license and here’s why

Fewer than one percent of cannabis cultivators in California are actually licensed to do so. The problem starts at the local level, with different cities not yet having passed laws on cannabis cultivation and some in which the practice is still outright banned.

Currently, only 13 out of 58 counties in the state have passed laws allowing for the commercial cultivation of marijuana. Six counties have plans to pass commercial cultivation laws in the near future while the idea is still being investigated and researched in 14 counties. But the bigger problem is that 25 counties have placed active bans on commercially growing cannabis. That’s over half of the counties in the state. ,In addition to these problems, there are also issues with the statewide policies.

California-recreational marijuana

Under the 1976 Direct Marketing Act, farmers are allowed to interact and sell directly to customers, but that law has not yet been passed down to marijuana growers. The state does offer event licenses for cannabis, but farmers are excluded from this which is making it very difficult for small to medium-sized cannabis cultivators.

And the licenses and consumer privacy aren’t the only issue with the new policies revolving around marijuana in California.

Tribes are cut out of marijuana market – why?

Other states that have legalized recreational marijuana, such as Washington, have made pacts with the tribes in their state that allow them to buy and sell marijuana, California has no plans to make such pacts. Instead, if the tribes wanted to set up those businesses, they would have to give up the rights to their land, and their rights to self-govern.

And that has made it very difficult for American Indian tribes throughout the state because they are now left out of an industry that is now legal but that would strip them of the rights they’ve worked so hard, and so long, for. The issues at hand surrounding cannabis are who would govern and tax the cannabis, and how state marijuana laws with tribes would work with federal government regulations.

Some tribe members have said that they would pave their own way and create their own businesses outside of the statewide system. But what the repercussions would be for doing so without signing their sovereign immunity over as they’re being asked to do, is uncertain.

It’s a major problem for those tribes in the state that has over 100 federally recognized tribes, more than any other state. And those that want to get into the marijuana industry are as many as 20.

California may have legalized marijuana since January of 2018, but it’s not the free for all many people imagined when Proposition 64 was first passed. It’s clear that there are still many problems revolving around the industry and many issues that still need to be resolved.

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MSNL Team / 26th March 2018

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