With the passage of Proposition 64, the possession, transportation, and growth of recreational cannabis immediately became legal for adults 21 and older in California — but that isn’t to say that marijuana has been completely legalized in the state.
In fact, that’s far from the case. Proposition 64 comes with a restrictive set of parameters and restrictions that recreational users will need to abide by.
“My biggest thing is, people just think it’s legalized now, but there’s very strict parameters,” Colusa-based attorney John Hinley said.
According to local law enforcement officials, being aware of the restrictions set forth in the proposition will fall on those who choose to light up.
“I strongly opposed Proposition 64. However, the people of California have spoken and we must move forward. It should be very important to individuals who decide to use, possess, or cultivate marijuana to become very familiar with Prop 64,” Colusa County Sheriff Joe Garofalo said in a statement. “I have deep concerns of the impact Prop 64 will have. As a comparison, a year after Colorado legalized marijuana they saw an increase in general crime of 44%. If that’s any indication of what may happen in California, law enforcement will be extremely busy dealing with the potential increase in thefts, DUIs, and assaults.”
Prop 64: What is and isn’t legal now?
Use and possession
Adults ages 21 or older may now legally smoke or ingest marijuana for recreational purposes, but as previously mentioned, there are a number of clearly defined restrictions, including some that pertain to use.
To put it simply, marijuana can currently only be ingested or smoked in private.
The language of the proposition specifically prohibits smoking marijuana in public; anywhere smoking cigarettes is prohibited; and within 1,000 feet of a school, day care center, or youth center while children are present. There is an exception if a private residence is within that 1,000 boundary, but “only if such smoking is not detectable by others on the grounds of such a school, day care center, or youth center when children are present.” The proposition also bans smoking or ingesting marijuana or marijuana products while driving motor vehicle (including boats, vessels, aircraft, or other vehicles used for transportation) and while riding as a passenger in those vehicles.
In terms of possession, adults ages 21 and older can now legally have up to an ounce of marijuana or up to 8 grams of concentrated cannabis on their person for recreational use. As with alcohol, Proposition 64 prohibits possession of an open container or open package of marijuana or marijuana products while driving, operating, or riding as a passenger in a motor vehicle.
While Proposition 64 made the possession and use of recreational marijuana legal, there isn’t anywhere an individual can legally buy it -— yet.
In order to sell recreational marijuana, a vendor must be licensed by the state’s Department of Consumer Affairs, which, according to the proposition, will begin issuing licenses by Jan. 1, 2018, and the permitting process will probably begin later rather than sooner.
“One of problems right now is that you’re able to possess it, but not purchase it,” said Matthew Smith, a Sacramento defense attorney. “The agency that the state has set up (the Bureau of Marijuana Control) — none of their budget this year is allocated to recreational marijuana. All of it is for medical marijuana. What that means is that the permitting process, from my understanding, won’t be in place until Jan. 2018. Only legal place to purchase it is at a dispensary for medical marijuana patients.”
Recreational users might not currently be able to purchase marijuana for that purpose, but they can grow it.
Under Proposition 64, no more than six living plants may be planted, cultivated, harvested, dried, or processed within a single private residence, or on the grounds of that residence, at one time.
The living plants — and anything harvested from those plants in excess of the possession limit of 28.5 grams — must be kept within an individual’s private residence or on the grounds of that residence, kept in a locked space, and not visible by the naked eye from a public place.
Where do local municipalities fit in?
So how does Proposition 64 affect the status quo in the county, and the cities of Williams and Colusa?
All three municipalities currently have some sort of ban on the cultivation, transportation, and/or sale of marijuana — but all of those were put in place for the regulation of medical marijuana. Proposition 64 will force them to address the issue of recreational marijuana.
Under Proposition 64, local municipalities retain some control over regulation, but in many respects —particularly as the proposition pertains to personal use, possession, and cultivation — their hands are tied.
Take, for example, cultivation. Proposition 64 affords local municipalities the authority to completely ban outdoor cultivation of recreational marijuana, but states that “no city, county, or city and county may completely prohibit persons engaging in the actions and conduct (listed under the guidelines for cultivation in the proposition) inside a private residence, or inside an accessory structure to a private residence located upon the grounds of a private residence that is fully enclosed and secure.”
In the case of the county — where indoor and outdoor cultivation of medical marijuana is banned outright — the county may be forced to allow residents to cultivate marijuana for recreational use.
“Right now, we do have a cultivation ban in the county, but… It will probably be the case under Proposition 64 that we cannot prevent people from growing up to six plants for own use in a confined area,” Marcos Kropf, Colusa County Counsel, said.
Where the municipalities do retain clout is with regulating commercial recreational marijuana activity. While those commercial activities are likely more than a year down the road, local governing bodies will ultimately have to decide whether those activities — commercial cultivation, distribution, transport, storage, manufacturing, processing, and sale of non-medical marijuana — have a place within their boundaries.
Kropf added that under the county’s zoning code, dispensaries, shops, and the sale of marijuana would still be prohibited — whether for medical or recreational marijuana.
Each of the local governing bodies will begin dealing with the issue in short order. Kropf said he would be coming before the board soon to discuss Proposition 64 and to ask if they have “any particular direction that they want to go on.”
Colusa Interim City Manager Randy Dunn said that the Colusa City Council would be briefed on the proposition and what it means for the city last night.
“We can’t have the same approach that we had two years ago. The landscapes have changed. I’m just not sure what direction the city will be taking on that. On Tuesday, our attorney will be giving council an overview of Prop 64 and what it means for city. I think council will still be concerned with (the potential nuisance to residents),” Dunn said.
Williams City Administrator Frank Kennedy commented that he has been in the process of forming an ad hoc committee to examine the issue of recreational marijuana and report to the city council.
“We have small group of people who are on that committee. Legal counsel will also be a part of that process. We will look at some of those ramifications, advise the council, and move forward from there,” Kennedy said.