Everything You Need to Know About Buying Recreational Marijuana in California

Author: Jana K. Hoffman

California cannaBISHes, rejoice! Recreational marijuana officially became legal at the start of this year by way of Proposition 64, which allows anyone age 21 and older to buy weed from a licensed dispensary. That means you can now partake without extra paranoia from the legal implications if caught (sort of). Currently, there are 29 states along with the District of Columbia that have laws in place broadly legalizing marijuana in some form.

While California isn’t the first state to legalize recreational usage, it may certainly serve as a great case study for more states to begin following suit. “As the sixth largest economy in the world, California sets the tone for the rest of the country,” said Jesse Meighan, COO and Co-Founder of Jane West. “The end of prohibition [in California] is a true turning point and an important step towards federal legalization.”

"It’s also an exciting development," noted Beca Grimm, cannabis culture journalist and Co-Founder for Dope Girls. “I'm sure it'll have an interesting effect on the economy—especially with new regulations coming into play that legitimize businesses,” she added.

Those new regulations are important to consider before heading out to your local dispensary. With that in mind, we compiled a list of them right here:

You may legally carry up to one ounce of bud or eight grams of concentrates like oils or waxes without a medical marijuana card.

Be prepared to pay for your weed with cash money. Most, if not all, dispensaries don't accept credit cards so hit up the ATM first.

Also be prepared to pay a hefty tax. Dispensaries may charge a 15 percent state tax on anything you buy. Your purchase may also be subject to an additional local tax of eight to 10 percent.

Major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco don’t have licensed dispensaries, which means you can’t buy recreational marijuana from them. There’s a major strain on dispensaries trying to apply for licenses. So much so that some businesses are considering shutting their doors. Los Angeles isn’t planning to designate licensed dispensaries until later this month.

Proposition 64 prohibits marijuana usage in public places, and many large venues will continue to uphold that law. If caught, you may be charged a $100 USD fine.

Good news for BISHes flying out of Los Angeles International Airport or other airports locally within the state. If you have less than an ounce of marijuana or less than eight grams of concentrated cannabis, it will be treated just as any tobacco product. This rule doesn’t apply to federal airspace.

Speaking of federal rules. Marijuana purchased in California can't be taken out of the state. You also can’t take your marijuana to national parks and other federally owned properties.

Unless you’re Mike Tyson, who just broke ground on a 40-acre marijuana ranch in California City, California, recreational users may only grow up to six plants in their home. Growers will be subject to a $9.25 USD per ounce tax for the plant’s flowers and a $2.75 USD tax per ounce of leaves.

It’s OK to transport marijuana in your car now. But you have to store it in a container in your trunk. Driving under the influence and consumption in your vehicle is still illegal. “It's always better to stay in and order UberEats than put yourself and others at risk,” Grimm said.

The law doesn’t change how companies may drug test you for employment status at your job. You can still be tested and you can still be fired if you fail the test. This may vary by company, but it’s possible that your workplace will still uphold its “zero tolerance” drug policy for your safety and the safety of others.

The other upside of recreational marijuana legalization will directly impact the “war on drugs.” That means those who are currently serving time in jail for marijuana-related offenses may get their sentences reduced or get out of jail. “The legalization of marijuana is the first step to dismantling a decades-long ‘war on drugs’ that has been the cornerstone of institutional racism in America,” said Meighan.

New laws will also allow for those offenses to be removed or declassified from the offenders’ records. Meighan added, “Cannabis is deeply tied to mass incarceration and arrests for drugs that disproportionately affect people of color. In prohibition states, this highly effective plant medicine is kept from medical patients while pharmaceutical companies aggressively market opioids, exacerbating a national crisis.”  

As always, be sure to consume marijuana in moderation. If you're new to cannabis culture, don't hesitate to talk to those working at your local dispensary for recommendations. They're knowledgeable and eager to help you enjoy the right kind of high.