What newly legalized marijuana means for California

This article looks at what legalized marijuana means for California after Proposition 64 was passed.

Proposition 64, which asked voters whether or not they wanted to legalize marijuana in California, was passed by 56 to 45 percent recently, according to the Sacramento Bee. The passing of Proposition 64 means that California joins Colorado, Alaska, Washington, and a number of other states in legalizing recreational marijuana use. California is also, of course, now the largest state in the country to legalize recreational marijuana and the passing shows just how much attitudes towards marijuana have shifted in recent years. Now that Proposition 64 has passed, it is important for Californians to understand what the new law means for the Golden State.

What is allowed?

Proposition 64 takes effect immediately, meaning that adults who are 21 or older are now allowed to possess up to an ounce of marijuana without facing criminal charges under state law. Additionally, the law now allows adults to possess up to six plants in their homes for personal consumption. As the San Diego Union-Tribune points out, the new law also means that because marijuana is no longer considered contraband, the smell of it or the presence of marijuana paraphernalia can no longer be used by police as a reason for conducting a body search.

The new law also means that those who have a criminal conviction for a marijuana-related offense that is no longer considered a crime may be able to have that record changed. In some cases, this will mean reducing a felony offense to a misdemeanor. In others, it could mean expunging an offense from a criminal record entirely. People with such convictions will have to petition the court for the changes.

What isn't allowed?

Public smoking of marijuana remains illegal, as does driving under the influence of marijuana. Shops that sell alcohol or tobacco are prohibited from selling marijuana. Furthermore, a marijuana shop cannot be located within 600 feet of a school, daycare or youth center. As with alcohol and tobacco, marijuana advertising cannot be directed towards minors and businesses must ID customers to ensure they are 21 or over.

The new law also gives plenty of power to local governments to control marijuana businesses. Councils are allowed to prohibit marijuana businesses from setting up within their jurisdictions. However, local governments are not allowed to prohibit the possession of up to six plants that are kept within a private residence.

Dealing with the changes

It is also worth noting that although California is one of a number of states that has legalized marijuana, the drug does remain banned according to federal law, which supersedes state law. This discrepancy between state and federal law opens up plenty of legal issues and could end up landing a lot of private citizens into unexpected legal trouble. Anybody who is dealing with a drug crime, such as being charged with possessing or trafficking a banned substance, needs to contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can help clients understand what their rights are, especially when laws surrounding drug crimes can shift so dramatically.