California residents may have voted to legalize recreational marijuana in the November election last fall, but here in San Diego, the substance is still heavily regulated. The original bill, known as Prop 64, offers a certain amount of freedom when it comes to the drug but ultimately allows municipalities to regulate marijuana in their communities. FINE Magazine breaks down everything you need to know before lighting up in San Diego and San Diego County.
What’s Legal Under Prop 64?
Under Prop 64, the use of recreational marijuana is legal. While medical marijuana had been legal in California for the last twenty years, using the drug recreationally is brand new to the state.
The bill legalizes:
- The possession, use, transport and transfer of marijuana for those 21 and over.
- Personal cultivation of up to 6 plants grown both indoors and outdoors.
- The sale of marijuana for recreational use at dispensaries.
But Prop 64 didn’t turn California into a free-for-all. Here’s the fine print:
- Marijuana possession is limited to one ounce, or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis.
- Marijuana consumption is prohibited in public places.
- Marijuana smoke or vapor is prohibited in non-smoking areas, or within 1000 ft of a school, daycare, or youth center when children are present.
- Possession or consumption of marijuana at schools or daycares is prohibited.
- Manufacture concentrated cannabis without a license.
Though this bill became law in November and allows for the entirely legal possession and consumption of recreational marijuana, Prop 64 does not supercede employer and property owner policies about the use of the drug. Your boss may still see fit to fire you for drug use, and your landlord could still evict you. Make sure to check your rental agreement and employee handbook before heading to the local dispensary.
The bill also imposes two cultivation taxes, costing cannabis growers $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves, as well as a 15% retail sales tax footed by consumers. Finally, Prop 64 allows local cities and counties to impose additional regulations and taxes. It’s estimated that marijuana sales will exceed $6 billion by 2020. Last year alone, medical marijuana sales totaled $2.8 billion. The industry is clearly a booming one in California. In San Diego, further regulations may stifle growth in the coming years.
The city of San Diego is currently reviewing a ban on cultivation, processing, testing, storage and distribution of marijuana and its by products. This means that while dispensaries would be legal in the city, those businesses could not cultivate, process, or even test the product they intend to sell. Instead, marijuana would probably have to be shipped in from beyond the county line, which would inevitably increase the cost for the consumer. The council is scheduled to return to the subject after nine months, so we look forward to a decision (hopefully) around October.
Luckily, the council has some breathing room. The state will not issue commercial licenses for dispensaries until January 2018. There are a handful of dispensaries in the city already that currently sell recreational marijuana and can cultivate the plant, and will be allowed to continue to do so until the council comes to a conclusion on the matter.
Further regulations in the city include a limit of four dispensaries allowed per city council district and the limitation of growing personal plants outside. While Prop 64 ensures that residents can grow up to six plants indoors, the city council has specified that outdoor growing must be within a growing structure, such as a greenhouse.
But, while San Diego seems to have embraced Prop 64 pretty wholeheartedly, the county has not. San Diego county has instilled a ban prohibiting marijuana completely in unincorporated areas. This includes possession and use by residents, as well as sale and cultivation by businesses.
The fact is, marijuana is still considered an illegal drug. Possession and cultivation can result in felony charges, regardless of state law. The county aims to adhere to federal statute, despite the majority of Californians voting for legalization. Many cities within the county are still wary of breaking federal law, and have made no indication of embracing marijuana within their limits.
There is one more thing on the docket for California state legislation. A new bill, called AB 1578, would move to have California become a sanctuary state for legal marijuana. In effect, this measure would stop local and state law enforcers from aiding federal agents in the arrests of those who comply with the new state law. It could mean protection for marijuana in the face of a potential increase in federal drug enforcement with the new administration. The bill was passed in assembly and has now moved to the senate. Should the bill pass the senate, which is majority Democrat, it would then move to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown, also Democrat. It’s still uncertain whether the bill will succeed.
Originally posted 2017-06-26 13:48:27.