Prop 64 is getting recreational weed rolling.
Also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), Prop 64 passed with a wide, 57-43% margin in November 2016. There were nearly 8 million people who voted to legalize marijuana but there were still close to six million voters who liked the status quo. A big part of the broad support for legal weed may be from the deep history California has with the plant.
Cities like Mendocino, Orange County, Weed, and San Francisco all have a vibrant horticultural culture. They were also some of the heaviest hit by the AIDS epidemic. Reducing suffering for terminally ill patients was enough motivation for California to allow medical marijuana. This is part of the reason so many popular strains come from the sunshine state.
Granddaddy Purps, SFV OG and countless others have become internationally recognized, California based genetics. An entire region of northern California is known as the Emerald Triangle because of how prevalent weed is. But up until now, only medical cannabis has been legal in California. The new bill marks a new chapter in California’s cannabis legalization legacy.
The new law makes possession of up to one ounce of sticky icky or eight grams of concentrates legal. Every adult (21 and over) is also allowed to grow up to six plants each. And prior offenders can file to have their records changed to reflect the new standard. But they don’t stop there.
California has a prison population issue from the harsh mandatory minimums that the War on Drugs brought about. Prop 64 reduces penalties for most cannabis related crimes (like cultivation, transport and sale) from felonies to misdemeanors. But repeat or violent offenders can expect to get some of that prison guard love that made Alcatraz such an attractive destination.
Part of how they distinguish the happy hippie from the dangerous drug dealer is if they have a license. The plan is to have a full regulatory system in place for commercial/personal cultivation and sales by January 2018. Like other states, they will pay for the regulations (and then some) through taxes and fees.
What kind of taxes are we talking about?
Glad you asked! Prop 64 establishes a flat production tax of $9.25/ oz. of flower to start. That means that small operations will earn orders of magnitude less profit than their industrial counterparts. This helps attract investment but also puts huge financial pressure on small and even medium sized operations.
Another tax concession was a new tax on both medical and recreational sales. The state decided to implement a new 15% excise tax for retail sales. This new tax is scheduled to take effect in January of 2018 for both medical and recreational users. To make up for the new tax, California gave resident medical patients with ID an exemption. They don’t have to pay the current 7.25% sales tax. They made the exemption effective immediately which shows how much they care about their medical patients.
Industrial hemp also got some love with the bill. Effective Jan 2017, farmers have been allowed by the state to grow hemp in their fields. Hemp genetics are mostly comprised of several extremely low THC strains of cannabis. This means it can often be high in the non-psychoactive compound CBD. The decision of the DEA to make CBD a schedule 1 drug (and thereby prevent most hemp production) made this inclusion especially important.
A lot of people confuse the word legalized with the word unregulated. Legalization means that every penny needs to be accounted for and every dot needs to be crossed because someone is watching. You can’t just roll up to a dispensary with a bag full of chronic and expect to walk away with a check. You can expect to get a night stick massage and a new pair of linked bracelets.
Illegal sale, transport, manufacture, cultivation or possession with intent to sell are all big no-no’s. You also can’s smoke or consume in any “public place”, on school grounds or have an open container while driving. Even having a spliff tucked into your beanie while mountain biking down a trail is can get you a DUI or misdemeanor.
If minors are caught in possession, they no longer have to fear imprisonment though. They will get to spend plenty of time in drug education and community service as long as weed is all they get hit for. But if anyone happens to be a three-time offender, they get special treatment that may be more in line with the federal guidelines.
The entire state of California (and the entire West Coast from Canada to Mexico to be honest) has started legalizing recreational cannabis. But federal law still Trumps state law most of the time. Anywhere that is considered federal property is exempt from the new laws. This includes places like the post office, courthouses, parks and military posts. Get caught with weed there and it’s in federal prosecutors hands.
While individual states have taken measures to reduce penalties for cannabis consumption, they still maintain that is a federally illegal Schedule One substance. In any special cases that prosecutors feel justified in, they can choose to pursue federal charges and penalties. And with the new edict from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, federal prosecutors were ordered to seek the most severe punishments possible.
Federal charges are normally only brought forward in large cases where commercial distribution is suspected. This is normally in the hundreds of plants so small growers feel a modicum of safety. But recent political upheavals have shown that America is dominated by increasingly authoritarian and obnoxiously ignorant ideologies. This bill is a step in the right direction and gives Californian’s the opportunity to treat each other with compassion. But as great as this step is, don’t expect it to stop the federal ban hammer on its own. With all the documentation required to get a license, there will be no escape if Attorney General Sessions has his way.