The New California Marijuana Laws for 2018

California starts selling legal marijuana on January 1, but new rules and regulations dictate what dispensaries can — and can’t do.

Of all the states that have approved recreational marijuana, none have a special relationship with weed quite like California. The Golden State was the first to legalize medical marijuana, is home to the famed “Emerald Triangle” growing region, and is the state that sells the most legal marijuana. By passing Prop. 64 in 2016, California set the table for legal use of marijuana for any adult age 21 or over — and those legal sales begin January 1, 2018.

At the state level, California should be congratulated for (mostly) meeting the January 1 deadline and having its rules and regulations in place so sales can begin that day. But the vast majority of the state won’t be ready, because counties and municipalities must have their own regulations in place. Most cities are nowhere close yet.

The state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control released 278 pages of California cannabis laws and regulations on November 16. California cities and counties can implement additional restrictions, but must still comply with all state restrictions.

All these guidelines — and any cannabis licenses granted —  are just emergency guidelines, meant to get the state ready for January 1. Technically, these rules are only in effect until April 30, 2018. But it’s an excellent bet that most of these regulations will be made permanent after that, unless there’s an unexpected problem with any individual rule.

So what are the new California marijuana laws? Let’s take a look.


California Marijuana Dispensary Rules

California dispensaries may only operate between 6am and 10pm and are all required to have 24-hour video surveillance. Delivery services can only deliver cannabis by car or truck, not by bike (or drone delivery, for that matter).

Dispensaries are forbidden from operating within 600 feet of a school, day care facility, or a “youth center.” (Look forward to many, many legal appeals over what constitutes a “youth center.”) Window displays at dispensaries are also forbidden, and interior retail displays cannot be visible from the outside the dispensary.

How much Recreational Marijuana You Can Buy in California

There will be limits on how much you can buy at an individual dispensary. Of course, a buyer could just game the rules by visiting multiple dispensaries in a single day.

Still, California marijuana buyers are limited to 28.5 grams (one ounce) of flower, eight grams of concentrate, and six immature plants per dispensary visit.

Similarly, Californians without a cultivation license are limited to possessing six plants. That’s not a change, as the text of Prop. 64 limits individuals to six plants which must be “locked and not visible from a public place.”

Gifts and giveaways are banned for adult-use marijuana products, but will be allowed for medicinal products.

New Laws On California Edibles

The days of the 1,000 mg megadose brownies will be over. The new laws limit individual packages of edible cannabis products to 100 mg, and each “single serving” can only be 10 mg.

The laws dictate that marijuana products cannot be packaged in a way that is attractive to children. The word “candy” cannot be used, and edible products cannot be shaped like a human, “either realistic or caricature,” or like an animal, insect, or fruit.

It’s not just certain forms of candy being forbidden. The state’s booming infused market will have to shed any infused products that contain caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol, as those will now be illegal.

Tinctures will still be permitted to have alcohol. But tinctures, topicals, and concentrates will be limited to 1,000 mg of cannabinoid for recreational use, 2,000 mg for medicinal use.

Packaging of all marijuana products will be required to have the state’s cannabis warning label on its packaging.  

California Marijuana Licenses

This is pretty deep in the weeds for most users, but cannabis business will all be required to be licensed by the state. These will be “temporary emergency licenses,” that expire on April 30 (though are eligible for a limited 90-day renewal period after that). Each business will have to reapply for a permanent license by May  1, and is also required to get a local license.

Each manufacturer’s products will be tested for THC, CBD, and any cannabinoid the product claims to contain. The cannabinoids must be spread evenly throughout the product, and the process will also test for impurities, toxins, and residual solvents.

Very few California cities will be ready to sell marijuana on January 1, 2018. Those few will include San Diego, Berkeley, San Jose, and Santa Cruz, as well as Humboldt County.

On the more restrictive side, Leafly reports there will be marijuana bans in California in as many as 400 communities who’ve passed severe restrictions on recreational marijuana.   

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