As of midnight on New Year’s day 2018, the state of California officially had legalized recreational marijuana sales. Although medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 1996, and although Cali isn’t the first state to legalize recreational use (that’d be Washington and Colorado), it is definitely the biggest state to do so, and how the government tackles sales and usage could spell changes for the rest of the country.
In 1996, California first passed State Bill 420 (yes, really!), making medicinal use of marijuana legal throughout the state when a prescribed by a doctor. Since then, medical marijuana use has become common in the state, with users being issued ID cards that enabled them to buy the drugs over the counter. In 2016, the state voted to decriminalize recreational use of the drug for personal use and it means big changes for how people use marijuana in the state.
Before this year, only legal residents of California could access medical marijuana, meaning visitors to the state could not get their own ID cards. Now, anyone over the age of 21 can buy up to one ounce of weed for personal use while in the state, although where you smoke it is fairly limited.
California has very strict tobacco laws that make it hard for cigarette smokers to light up in public. These laws are also being applied to marijuana use in the state, limiting where you can smoke. Beaches and public patios are prohibited, so your best bet is in a private home, or using edibles instead of smoking.
And if you are traveling into the state to partake, remember that what you buy in Cali has to stay in Cali — although WA, CO, and CA all have legal weed, it’s still illegal to sell or use on a federal level, so trying to travel across state lines is a no-no.
Although the current government has no plans to decriminalize marijuana use on the federal level — and is even cracking down — the use of marijuana in place of other drugs has been proven to be beneficial for some public health concerns. With a public health emergency in the face of a national opioid crisis, many are calling for the decriminalization of marijuana nation wide in order to curb the dangerous social, economic and physical effects of harder drugs like oxycodone. Depending on how the state of California manages the next few months, any successes could be applied to a national rollout, although under the current administration, that seems unlikely.
Would you take a vacay to California to partake in their legal weed scheme? Tell us @BritandCo!
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