legal weed

The 5 Things to Consider Before You Light Up in California

As Californians ring in the New Year with a recurring case of the munchies, a new era for legal weed also begins.
January 12, 2018
7 mins read

As of Jan. 1, 2018, smoking marijuana recreationally in California is legal. Back in 2016, California voters passed Proposition 64 to begin the process of governing legal weed. The time for regulating recreational weed has arrived.

Before you take your pens, pieces, edibles and joints with you as you head out the door, take caution. Though smoking marijuana recreationally in the state of California is legal, it is still a crime in the eyes of the federal government. Here are five things to remember before adjusting your smoking habits.

1. Smoking at School

Public colleges are part state-funded and federally funded. This means if you bring your legal weed with you to school grounds, you will still get into trouble.

In fact, most students are likely receiving frantic e-Memos from their school’s administration ensuring students who come back from winter break that weed is STILL not allowed on campus. How diligent campus safety is, is another story.

Try not to be too angry at your college campus as it needs money to function and runs the risk of having this federal funding pulled completely, especially if they allow their students to freely smoke marijuana and not abide by federal law.

2. Smoking at Work

In a nutshell, if you cannot show up to work drunk, you also cannot show up to work high. Whether or not one is safer than the other is not the question here.

Both are considered being under the influence. Your boss still has every right to fire you if you show up under the influence and not for medical purposes.

A company can still deny you employment if you decide to fail their mandatory drug test. There is no legislation stating businesses should follow suit with state law and any federal jobs will definitely not allow recreational use of marijuana.

3. Smoking in Public Places or While Driving

This is a similar situation as seen in work and school. Medical marijuana cards may have granted some freedom here, but it has always been a risk that weed smokers take when they travel.

Now that weed is open for all to smoke recreationally — not just those with a card — legal weed should be kept at home for recreational use. Taking it on the road, under the law, is like having an open bottle in your car.

Just like driving with an open container, if your weed is unsealed you will face some trouble if you are pulled over. Legal weed must be in a sealed container, and if that container is not sealed, it must be locked away somewhere, such as the trunk of your car.

If you cannot drink in public, you should not be high in public. You can be cited by the police for disturbing of the peace or driving under the influence, just as you would with alcohol.

Smokers who have a medical marijuana card already know that they can only carry a certain amount on them before they accidentally become potential dealers, increasing any trouble they might find themselves in. Carrying over 28.5 grams can put in you a sticky situation with the police upon inspection, even with an MMJ card.

In the case of edibles, you can purchase items laced with up to 8 grams worth of cannabis. Whether you’re attempting to smoke at school, work, while driving or in a public place, consider the consequences of having or carrying too much. The word “consume” is listed on the Department of Public Health and Safety website, meaning edibles are not overlooked.

As far as smoking at home and on private property, renters could run into some issues. Property owners may prohibit marijuana on their premises, meaning you should not smoke at home either.

4. Purchasing Limitations

Just like alcohol, legal weed will now have its own fair share of regulations. Those under the age of 18 are out of luck.

Users must be 21 or older to purchase one ounce of marijuana per day from dispensaries. Different from alcohol, smokers must purchase their weed before 10 p.m. as it is illegal to sell weed between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Also different from purchasing alcohol, you’ll only be able to purchase weed with a valid government issued ID or driver’s license and with cold, hard cash. Dispensaries can only sell their product to buyers carrying cash.

Keep in mind that prices will also rise drastically and especially because of this change. Now that the state wants to regulate the sale of marijuana, taxes will be applicable. Remember to visit state-licensed dispensaries (you can find a list here).

For smokers who have an MMJ card, the law brings about a couple of changes as well. Previously MMJ card owners were able to personally grow marijuana under specific guidelines and regulations and inside only while non-cardholders could not possess plants for personal growth under any circumstances.

With the new legislation in order, non-cardholders can own up to one plant. MMJ cardholders will now be able to own up to six plants and they must be safely located where they are not subject to theft.

5. Which Laws Are Binding?

To brush up on American government policies, it is possible to have legislation recognized on a state level and not on a federal level. However, at the end of the day, federal law beats state law.

This happens because of the Supremacy Clause in the constitution known as the article of pre-emption. The clause says, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land.” What this means for legal states is that smoking your weed recreationally is okay, however, U.S. citizens are bound to follow U.S. law.

In addition, U.S. law is still strictly against marijuana, being that it is still considered a class 1 drug. If the feds really want to, they will still come after you and you are still at fault.

Though you’re somewhat protected in the grey area that is the supremacy clause of the constitution, the federal laws usually win. Practice smoker discretion before you light up or consume an edible and take the right steps to reduce as much trouble for yourself as possible until legislation surrounding marijuana adapts.

Megan Bender, Citrus College

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Megan Bender

Citrus College
Journalism & Communications

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