political | 11.08.2018

Your Guide to Legal Weed in California

Adrian Daniel Schramm


California has allowed for medical marijuana for quite some time, but it’s only been a few years since they fully legalized cannabis. In fact, it was in November, exactly two years ago, that California voters passed proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act.

It wasn’t until January of this year, however, that they started the commercial sale of marijuana. Now, California is home to the world’s largest legal pot market.

California Marijuana Laws


The skinny on possession is that as long as you are older than 21, you have a constitutional right to possess and consume marijuana in California.

More specifically, though, individuals are allowed to possess up to 28.5 grams (roughly an ounce) of bud and up to 8 grams of marijuana concentrate.


You are allowed to possess and grow up to six plants. However, it’s six plants per household, not six per person. The pot plants cannot be visible to the public and and must be within a locked space -- this means that inside your house is fine but growing freely in your backyard is not.


You are not allowed to smoke* in any of the following places:

In public

Anywhere tobacco is prohibited

Within 1,000 feet of a school or daycare - unless it is your private residence and the smoke is not detectable from the outside.

*According to state law, the term “smoke” refers to consumption of any kind including vaping, ingesting and any other method of getting THC into your bloodstream.

In fact, where you can and can’t get high really hasn’t changed much since when it was illegal: Your options are still your house, someone else's house, or where no one is around to tell you otherwise i.e. somewhere in nature.

One aspect has changed though: Smoking in cars is now a no no.

Marijuana and Driving

When marijuana was illegal many people would light up in their cars. I’m sure to some extent people will continue to do it but it is as illegal today as it was 20 years ago.

In fact, there’s good reason to believe that police will start cracking down on this if they haven’t already.

This shouldn’t be a big deal because you can smoke in private and you can transport your marijuana in the car as long as it is in a child-proof container and out of reach of the driver.

What about weed shops?

In April, just 3 months after the state started handing out licenses, California had licensed more than 400 retail locations.

That number has since grown and there are places to buy weed all over California. You shouldn’t have much trouble finding a dispensary around the major metropolitan areas. That said, don’t expect a dispensary on every corner, especially if you are further inland.

The reason for this surprising lack of marijuana dispensaries in much of the state is that Proposition 64 gave local government the authority to ban or regulate commercial cannabis. Many communities have chosen to ban.

Cannabis Cafes

You need to be in a private residence to consume marijuana unless you are at specified establishments given a license for consumption often called cannabis cafes or lounges.

So far, West Hollywood, San Francisco, Oakland and South Lake Tahoe have become some of the first cities in California to open consumption lounges modeled after those in Amsterdam.

Basically, to summarize, you are allowed to have as much as an ounce, grow six plants in your house, and smoke in private or where no one is around.

There may not be a pot shop around every corner (yet) but as far as the law is concerned you can be as high as you want as long as the getting high part is done in private.

Read this next: Your Guide to Legal Weed in Canada