California Cannabis: Legal vs Illegal

Photo by Shelby Ireland on Unsplash

California Cannabis Laws & Regulations

California is the first state that allowed medical use of cannabis in 1996 when the Compassionate Use Act was passed by voters. The legal framework regulating cannabis use, retail, manufacturing, and testing has certainly come a long way since then, with a larger area of legal freedoms enjoyed by both businesses and users.

2017 Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA)

The Act which legalized the recreational use of cannabis, the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) was passed in 2017 by California voters. This meant the legalization of recreational use and sale of cannabis, but also regulatory laws and rules for cannabis retail sales as well as its use.

California Health & Safety Code 11357 HS

The Health and Safety Code 11357 HS regulates the terms of unlawful possession of marijuana in California. It prohibits the possession of over 28.5 grams of dried marijuana or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis, as well as possession by a minor under 21 or any possession within the premises of a K-12 school.

What’s Legal?

If you’re over the age of 21, you can legally purchase and consume cannabis products. People 18 or older may legally purchase medical marijuana, with some exceptions for younger patients. The Bureau of Cannabis Control regulates California state cannabis industry, while The Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch oversees cannabis-infused edible products.

Photo by David Gabrić on Unsplash

What’s Illegal?

According to state and federal regulations, in the state of California it’s illegal to:

  • Possess over 28.5 grams of cannabis plant material and 8 grams of concentrated cannabis
  • Give or sell retail cannabis to a minor under 21 years of age (unless in accordance with California medical marijuana laws)
  • Drive under the influence of cannabis
  • Selling retail cannabis products or transporting them for sale without a license
  • Possess marijuana within the premises of a K-12 school during school hours
  • Consume, smoke, eat, or vape cannabis in public
  • Consume cannabis in locations where smoking is illegal (bars, restaurants, buildings open to the public, places of employment, and areas within 15 feet of doors and ventilation openings)
  • Consume or possess cannabis on federal lands such as national parks
  • Take your cannabis across state lines (even when you are traveling to a state where cannabis is legal).



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Tess DiNapoli

Tess DiNapoli

Tess DiNapoli is an artist, freelance writer, and content strategist. She has a passion for yoga and often writes about fitness & wellness, as well as fashion.