Pot Is Legal. Now What?

 

Curing phase. (Photo by Mary Carreon)

At long last, the day stoners have been waiting for has finally arrived: Recreational (or, as most in the canna-word would prefer you say: “Adult-Use”) cannabis is legal. HALLELUJAH! But what exactly does Proposition 64 entail? Does it actually mean anything now that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is declaring war on cannabis by rescinding the Cole Memorandum, which directed federal law enforcement to respect states’ legalization laws? Can we smoke anywhere we want? Can we drive down the 405 Freeway with a bong in lap, smoking as we inch through rush hour traffic? Is every dispensary legal now? Do you still need a doctor’s recommendation to go to dispensaries? If you have a ton of questions, don’t worry– we all do. But here’s what we know so far.

As far as the Cole memo goes, we can expect chaos to ensue if the federal government starts trying to upend legal weed in California or anywhere else. “The administration’s decision to override voter will and the rights of states protected under the Tenth Amendment is going to throw the criminal justice system off balance, affecting not only those working tirelessly to bring the marijuana trade into the sunlight, but also thousands of state officials just trying to do their jobs,” said Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership in a statement. “If enforcement of laws are subject to the whims of individual prosecutors, no one will have any idea what is legal or what isn’t – because it could change from day to day. There’s no greater headache for an officer of the law than not to know where those lines stand, which is exactly why the Cole Memo was put into place.”

Meanwhile, despite the fact that Prop. 64, or the Medical Adult Use Regulatory Safety Act (MAURSA), is officially in place (huzzuh!) you still don’t have the freedom to smoke wherever you want (womp). Smoking cannabis also isn’t allowed anywhere except designated smoking zones. So you can kiss those sunset joints goodbye in places like Laguna Beach that have outlawed smoking city-wide—unless you’re okay with getting harassed and fined by the cops. But Laguna Beach is a special case because most cities haven’t made the entire city an anti-smoking zone.

Laguna aside, unless you’re on your property or in a designated smoking area, you can’t smoke the flower in public—the same way you can’t drink in public. Furthermore, there are no legal public consumption spots, like the infamous Amsterdam coffee shops, here in California. Yet. That is rumored to change soon, however.

The biggest no-no is smoking while driving. Somehow, California went until late last year without specifically outlawing smoking cannabis in the car. That’s different now thanks to a bill Jerry Brown signed last Sept. If you’re caught smoking herb or eating an edible in your car—even if you’re not driving— you’ll be fined $70. How cops will know you’re eating an edible versus a normal, wholesome brownie is unclear.

But make no mistake: It’s been illegal to drive under the influence of anything, including cannabis, since forever. It’s also illegal to have an open bag of cannabis, a half smoked joint or other open cannabis product in a motor vehicle (vapes included!). It’s similar to open container laws that prohibit drinking while driving. So, to repeat: smoking in the car is a no-go.

In terms of procuring cannabis, there are currently 400 dispensaries in all of California you can go to with out having a doctor’s recommendation—six of them are in Orange County. In Santa Ana you can go to: 420 Central, From The Earth, ShowGrow, People’s OC, MedMen OC, OC3, Blüm (formerly the Reserve OC) and the Source to get all your adult-use needs. Many previously approved medical dispensaries (like Santa Ana’s Measure BB shops and the Pre-ICO collectives in LA) have chosen to remain medical, while others patiently await their adult-use licenses.

Rob Taft, the CEO of 420 Central, has been all over the news since Dec. 30—the day he officially got his state license. On Jan. 1 at 6:30 am people lined up to get their recreational cannabis with nothing other than their drivers licenses, or ID cards.“This is history,” said Taft. “The ability to sell cannabis legally on the first day possible was just a hoot for us. To know that we can now serve anyone as of January 1st is a freedom that we’ve never seen in our lifetime.”

Rob Taft, CEO of 420 Central (Photo by Rockography)

In the first two days of operating under the MAURSA, 420 Central alone, according to Taft, has raised the city and state governments over $50,000. But what’s the difference between medical and adult-use? According to Taft it’s all perception. “I am happy that a family can now come from out of state who hasn’t been able to come to California because their child has epilepsy and therefore hasn’t been able to bring their child’s tincture across the border [without risking incarceration and getting their children taken away]. They can now come to California and go to Disneyland. That child’s parent has the right to go to licensed dispensaries, like 420 Central, and purchase a tincture that would suffice the child during their stay in California.”

Taft makes solid arguments for the new licensure. But that doesn’t mean you should just get rid of your doctor’s recommendation—especially if you’re between the ages of 18-20, or any minor with an adult caregiver because that little piece of paper will grant you access into dispensaries. You’ll also have the benefit of paying lower taxes, too.

The new state law limits product dosage for edibles to a cumulative 100 mg of THC per package (so 10 mg per edible) and 1000 mg of THC per tincture. For people who have major medical conditions (think Crohn’s disease, AIDS, PTSD, cancer, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, epilepsy, scoliosis etc.) this is actually a huge problem considering most of these patients need close to 1,000 or more mg’s of THC per day. If you have your recommendation, however, you’ll be able to access topicals or tinctures with up to 2,000 mg of THC, as well as purchase edible over the 100 mg limit. But only until July 1. Then the THC limits apply to everyone, including these patients, which isn’t good.

Now you have to eat between 15 to 30 edibles in order to get a higher, medicinal dose. Hmmm.. (Photo by Angel Grady)

The other reason it’s worth it to keep your old doctor’s recommendation is because you’ll be exempt from some taxes. In other words, cannabis and its related products will be cheaper for you if you have that doctors rec. But the Green Doctors recommendations will only be valid for so long. Eventually everyone who wants to be considered a medical patient will need to hop on board the official medical-cannabis county ID card program, which costs about $100 to procure ($50 for someone on Medi-Cal). Although you’ll have to pay excise and local taxes, you won’t have to pay state taxes for your meds. It definitely seems like a lot of money for a medical card up front, but if you spend $100 or more a month on medical cannabis, the card will ultimately for itself. You can learn more about the county ID program here.

Lastly, under Prop. 64 anyone is legally able to grow six plants within their home and have an ounce on them at one time. So if you’re paranoid about smoking or ingesting chemical-laden herb (which everyone should be) you can grow your own to ensure what you’re smoking is pesticide and Monsanto-free.

Although legalization has created a bigger sense of chaos than relaxation, one thing is certain: We’re watching history unfold before us. “This was an industry and community play, and we all came together,” said Taft. “This really is a movement.

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