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What You Need to Know About Recreational Marijuana in California

Dec 29 2017, by Jessica McElfresh in Legal Blog, Marijuana Business, Marijuana Charges, Medical Marijuana

Everyone knows that cannabis is legal for both medical and recreational uses in California. However, questions abound about how to buy recreational cannabis, where to smoke it, or how to start a recreational cannabis business. The Adult Use of Marijuana Act, or AUMA, was the law originally authorizing the possession, cultivation, and sale of recreational cannabis. But to make California cannabis laws more consistent, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the Medical and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA), which repealed the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA), while incorporating some of its provisions into AUMA.

MAUCRSA is a complex piece of legislation, and the state agencies tasked with implementing the law have not yet released their regulations. If you are a prospective cannabis entrepreneur, your success will depend on having an experienced and effective California cannabis attorney on your team.

Call McElfresh Law today at (858) 756-7107 to find out how we can help you.

Essential Recreational Cannabis Facts for Consumers

MAUCRSA’s directives regarding the individual possession and cultivation of recreational cannabis went into effect on January 1, 2017. Regardless of whether you are a California resident, if you have reached your twenty-first birthday you can:

  • Possess, transport, or give away up to one ounce of marijuana
  • Cultivate up to six plants
  • Keep all of the buds from the cultivated plant, as long as the amount in excess of one ounce is securely stored in your residence

This means that the only way for someone under the age of 21 to legally possess or cultivate cannabis is to have a recommendation from a licensed physician.

MAUCRSA puts in place restrictions on where you can consume cannabis. Except in some dispensaries, it is illegal to smoke or vape marijuana in any public place or within 1,000 feet of a school or daycare center while children are present. “Public place” means any place or business that is accessible to the public, so this includes beaches and parks. And if you’re using on federal land – which includes many parks and monuments – federal law enforcement may charge you with violations of the controlled substances act.

Many cannabis stores have stopped asking for recommendations, but this remains illegal. Only dispensaries that have obtained both a local permit and a state license may sell cannabis for recreational use.

What You Need to Know about Starting a Recreational Marijuana Business

MAUCRSA directs the following state government agencies to finalize the regulations and start issuing regulations for recreational cannabis businesses by January 2018:

  • Bureau of Cannabis Control – The BCC issues the licenses for cannabis retailers, distributors, testing labs and micro-businesses.
  • Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch – MCSB is a branch of the California Department of Public Health’s regulates commercial cannabis manufacturing businesses
  • CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing – This agency within the California Department of Food and Agriculture regulates and issues licenses for cultivators

Only the BCC is accepting license applications that take effect January 1, 2018. The other agencies should begin accepting applications with the new year. The licensing process is open to California residents and non-residents alike.

Under MAUCRSA, prospective cannabis businesses will need to show proof of local permission in their state license applications. Bear in mind that the process of obtaining a local permit, such as a San Diego Conditional Use Permit (CUP), may be just as complex, time-consuming, and costly as getting a state license.

Contact a San Diego Cannabis Lawyer Today

At McElfresh Law, we are closely monitoring the state’s rollout of its regulatory and licensing scheme for cannabis businesses. In parallel, we are following the local government regulations that might affect our San Diego cannabis business clients. If you want to successfully apply for a state cannabis business license and obtain a local operating permit, call us today at (858) 756-7107 to schedule your consultation.

California marijuana laws change frequently. For updated information, see the following pages: Medicinal Uses of Marijuana and Recreational Marijuana Business