International

Recreational Cannabis in the U.S.A: Part Two, California

By Whitney Abrams | July 14, 2017

In November 2016, California passed Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (“AUMA”). The state has set January 1, 2018 as the date that it will release its regulations for production, testing, distribution and sales of recreational cannabis including the implementation of a tracking system for cannabis seeds. Licensing for large-scale cultivation will only be commencing on January 1, 2023.

Under the AUMA, adults over 21 will be allowed to legally possess, transport, purchase, consume and share (with a friend also over 21) up to an ounce of cannabis, or up to eight grams of concentrates at any given time. At-home cultivation is capped at six plants per adult for personal use. Landlords in California may restrict or prohibit personal possession, smoking and cultivation on their property.

Cannabis will retail at dispensaries, many of which have already opened their doors illegally, advertising as “Prop 64 compliant.” Similar to the grey market in Canada, those dispensaries risk being barred from receiving legitimate recreational sales licenses when they come into effect in January 2018. The AUMA prohibits cannabis products “easily confused with commercially sold candy or foods that do not contain marijuana” – this will certainly limit any edibles that may be available legally in the state.

The AUMA also enables local jurisdictions to allow for licensed on-site smoking, vaporization, or ingestion of cannabis on the premises of a retailer or micro-business, but visible public consumption will remain strictly prohibited. It is similarly always illegal to consume cannabis and operate a vehicle.

Recreational cannabis will be taxed at 15% under the AUMA, which differs from medical cannabis, which is exempt from state and local sales tax.

In early June, the California legislature voted on and approved a cannabis budget “trailer bill”Senate Bill 94, titled the “Medical and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act,” effectively repealed the previous medical cannabis legislation in the state and will streamline the regulatory systems for medical and recreational cannabis businesses in the state. The bill also incorporates certain provisions of the medical licensing regime into the AUMA.

With the changes, California cannabis retailers will be able to sell both recreational and medical cannabis at the same storefront location. Additionally the bill allows for cannabis samples, home delivery, and sets standards for organic cultivation. The Bill also establishes the governing bureau as the Bureau of Cannabis Control.


Whitney Abrams

Whitney Abrams

Whitney’s work focuses on providing regulatory advice and advocating on behalf of cannabis businesses in the North American market. She is a frequent contributor to Canada Cannabis Legal.
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Comments (3)

  1. Jules:
    Dec 29, 2018 at 12:53 AM

    Fascinating article. Very in depth. My one question is: from where would Canada import cannabis? Are there countries currently exporting cannabis legally? Uraguay seems like the most economical source, although shipping costs could be an issue.

  2. miss lena:
    Feb 24, 2019 at 01:52 PM


    All labels will need to be plain, not appealing to children, and make no health claims. For edibles, there may be no dietary claims, and for topicals, there may be no cosmetic claims. For all of the new product classes, packaging and labelling must not contain any elements that associate the product with an alcoholic beverage, alcohol, or an alcohol brand.

  3. miss lena:
    Feb 24, 2019 at 01:52 PM

    All labels will need to be plain, not appealing to children, and make no health claims. For edibles, there may be no dietary claims, and for topicals, there may be no cosmetic claims. For all of the new product classes, packaging and labelling must not contain any elements that associate the product with an alcoholic beverage, alcohol, or an alcohol brand.






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