Two days ago, California voters approved Proposition 64, which legalizes possession and use of recreational marijuana in California.
Prop 64 (the "Adult Use of Marijuana Act") allows people to possess up to a little over an ounce of marijuana for personal use and to cultivate up to six marijuana plants. The Adult Use of Marijuana Act also allows for the sale of marijuana by licensed businesses that will collect a hefty tax on their product.
Many people want to know when they can start buying marijuana legally in California. There is no clear answer to that question now. The state government needs to work out the details as to how licenses for businesses to sell marijuana will be issued--and to figure out how the scheme for legalizing recreational marijuana will fit with the regulatory system surrounding medical marijuana in California.
But Proposition 64 does require the state to being issuing licenses for marijuana sales by January 1, 2018. Thus, the year 2018 is the latest point at which we can expect lawful sales of recreational marijuana to begin.
And legal marijuana sales may begin earlier than that. One possibility lawmakers are considering is allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to sell marijuana for recreational use temporarily, while the permanent licensing scheme for recreational marijuana sales is put into place.
Another possibility is for cities and counties to be allowed to issue temporary licenses for businesses to sell marijuana while the state licenses are pending.
Until some kind of licensing scheme goes into effect, selling marijuana will be a misdemeanor for most defendants under Health and Safety Code 11360 HS. (See our article, Nevada legalizes recreational pot use.)