Where Can I Legally Buy, Use and Grow Marijuana in Los Angeles?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Jan 05, 2018 | 0 Comments

On January 1, 2018, the use of recreational marijuana became legal in California for adults age 21 and older.

But sale, possession and cultivation of weed are subject to reasonable local restrictions.

Here's how local and state regulations affect your right to purchase, use, possess and grow marijuana in Los Angeles.

Where can I legally buy marijuana in L.A.?

Adults age 21 and over can buy recreational cannabis at licensed retail outlets. These outlets must have licenses from both the California Bureau of Cannabis Control and the specific city or country in which the outlet is located.

Purchasers can verify whether a business has a valid state license by visiting the California Bureau of Cannabis Control marijuana licensing webpage, linked to above.

To verify a business's local license, purchasers will need to check with the jurisdiction where the business is located.

Why should I care if a marijuana retailer is licensed?

All cannabis products cultivated or manufactured in California must be laboratory tested. Over the course of 2018, requirements for testing will be phased in, beginning with contaminants that pose the greatest threat to human health.

Purchasing marijuana from a licensed retailer ensures that consumers are getting the safest weed available.

In L.A. County, the Los Angeles County Office of Cannabis Management is in the process of developing an emblem (like a restaurant letter grade).

Once the emblem has been established, licensed marijuana retailers in unincorporated county areas and participating cities will be required to display the emblem. It will let consumers know that their retailer is properly licensed.

For more information visit

Can medical marijuana users still purchase from a dispensary?

Yes. And there is a good reason why medical marijuana users may wish to do so.

Although a medical marijuana identification card (MMIC) is not required for the use of medical marijuana (a doctor's recommendation will suffice), patients who show an MMIC at a dispensary will not be required to pay sales tax on their purchase. This represents a significant savings over retail (recreational) marijuana.

Additionally, medical marijuana users under age 21 are unable to purchase marijuana from recreational outlets. But they can still purchase from a licensed dispensary.

Where can I use marijuana in Los Angeles?

People can use cannabis on private property, subject to the approval of the property owner if someone other than the user.

This means that landlords have the right to limit or prohibit cannabis use on their privately-owned properties.

Smoking marijuana in public is illegal. It is also illegal to smoke marijuana anywhere where smoking tobacco is prohibited by state law. This includes places such as restaurants, parks and movie theaters.

Subject to local restrictions, however, marijuana can be consumed in designated areas of cannabis retailers or at private marijuana events. The only restriction is that children under 18 may not be present and or able to view the consumption.

Can I use or possess marijuana in a vehicle?

Absolutely not, except in a sealed container. It is against the law to have marijuana in an open container in a vehicle. Keep your purchases in a sealed container, or better yet, in the trunk or glove compartment.

And needless to say, driving while high can subject you to a DUI of marijuana, even if you are not smoking or consuming your pot in the car.

Where can I grow weed in Los Angeles?

People anywhere in California can grow up to six (6) plants indoors on property they own or where they have the owner's permission. The area must be secured and locked so that children can not enter. It must also not be viewable by the public.

In unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, residents may also grow marijuana outdoors, subject to the following restrictions:

  • Not more than six (6) plants.
  • Plants must not be more than six feet tall.
  • The perimeter of cultivation area must be secured with a locked six-foot high solid fence or wall.
  • Plants cannot be visible from any public right-of-way, private drive, or fire lane.
  • No outdoor cultivation within 600 feet of a park, library, school, daycare center, or youth center.

For more information, please see L.A. County's "Allowable Area for Personal Cannabis Cultivation." 

Can I smoke or consume weed at work?

Only if your employer permits it and it is not in a public area.

Federal law allows employers to prohibit the use of cannabis by their employers and to conduct drug checks for marijuana. Check with your employer to find out if its policies prohibit the use of marijuana.

Note additionally that regardless of employer policy, smoking marijuana is prohibited wherever state law prohibits the smoking of tobacco.

Can I use weed at my college or university?

In general, no. Most colleges accept federal funding and marijuana is still illegal under federal law. Institutions that accept federal funding cannot, therefore, allow the use of weed on campus.

This applies equally to medical marijuana and to the use of weed in one's dorm room. Institutions to which this applies include the University of California, the California State University system and community colleges.

People who attend private institutions should check with their school to learn whether weed use is permitted on campus and, if so, where.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.


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