Recreational Cannabis in California: Sharing is Caring, Buying is Illegal

California CannabisSince Proposition 64 passed earlier this month, there have already been reports of dispensaries selling recreational cannabis to adults without a physician’s recommendation. However, for those who believe they are now able to walk into a California dispensary and legally purchase recreational marijuana, they will be sorely disappointed.

The catch-22 of Prop 64 is that though adults in California can now legally possess, use, and transport recreational cannabis, there is currently no place in the state to purchase the cannabis as licensed medical dispensaries are not allowed to sell recreational cannabis (i.e. to adults over 21 who do not have the required physician’s recommendation to purchase medical marijuana). And though out-of-state residents can legally purchase recreational cannabis under Prop 64, they too are out of luck until state licensing begins, as currently licensed medical dispensaries may only sell medical cannabis to California residents.

Under Prop 64, dispensaries are required to apply for a “retailer” Type 10 license, which will be issued by the Department of Consumer Affairs, for the retail sale and delivery of marijuana or marijuana products to customers. The state is required to issue licenses by January 1, 2018, but at this time no license has been issued. Not only are dispensaries not allowed to sell recreational cannabis without a license, they will be penalized for operating without a license on top of any criminal penalties. Specifically, Prop 64 provides:

A person engaging in commercial marijuana activity without a license required by this division shall be subject to civil penalties of up to three times the amount of the license fee for each violation, and the court may order the destruction of marijuana associated with that violation in accordance with Section 11479 of the Health and Safety Code. Each day of operation shall constitute a separate violation of this section.

At this time, the only options for consumers to obtain recreational cannabis are to grow their own for personal use or share among each other free of charge. But to grow a plant you first need seeds or a clone, which you still can’t buy legally without a physician’s recommendation, so you’ll need to find a bud to give you the bud. The result could be the start of a sharing economy among California cannabis users while we wait for the state to get its regulated system in place.

The California state legislature is also considering allowing current medical dispensaries to temporarily sell recreational cannabis through a “special, conditional, time-restrained license” until formal state licenses are issued. We will alert you if that happens and we will continue to keep you informed of all things legal related to the ever-changing California cannabis landscape.