Proposition 64 passed in California on Tuesday, making recreational marijuana legal in the state. Although the focus of the prop was recreational consumption, it also changes business and criminal aspects of marijuana.
As of Nov. 9, adults 21 and older can legally possess less than one ounce of cannabis, less than eight grams of concentrate and grow up to six plants as long as the plants are not visible to the public. The only time an individual can be fined is if they possess or grow over the legal limit, or smoke in a public place where tobacco is already banned.
Additionally, Prop 64 continues to allow medical marijuana patients to grow more than recreational consumers. Patients between the ages of 18 and 21 are still able to legally access cannabis.
Although consumption of recreational cannabis in public isn’t allowed, smoking on private property is legal, as is smoking in specifically licensed
Business administration senior Jack Markham thinks Prop 64 is a step in the right direction.
“There are some pretty excessive regulations, but I think legalization is the first step,” Markham said. “I’m not sure the taxes are going to the right places or the regulations are fair, but now people can start to fight for exactly how they think it should be regulated.”
In regards to local regulations, the proposition states that a city or county may “enact and enforce reasonable regulations to reasonably regulate” the six-plant limit placed on individuals that grow marijuana. However, no city and/or county can completely prohibit citizens from engaging in cannabis use within a private residence that is both enclosed and secure.
San Luis Obispo pre-drafted plans on how to handle marijuana legalization in anticipation of Prop 64 passing into law, according to Assistant City Manager Derek Johnson. A business item regarding the proposition has already been prepared to present to city council on Feb. 7, 2017.
“Ultimately, it’s a policy question for the new city council members, as they’ll have prerogative on how to regulate both recreational and medical marijuana,” Johnson said.
Council members will have many options, according to Johnson. Items included in the 2017 proposal include city taxes as well as regulations on where smoking and growing marijuana will be legal in San Luis Obispo.
Prop 64 also affects the business of marijuana. Recreational marijuana stores are set to open on or before Jan. 1, 2018, which is when the state expects to begin issuing licenses for growers, manufacturers and sellers. The regulations will include quality product testing, required child-resistant packaging, limits on advertising, and tracking marijuana plants from the time they’re planted to the time the product is sold.
Prop 64 states that no large-scale businesses will be licensed until 2023, giving small businesses a five-year head start. After Jan. 1, 2023, there will be no limit set for how big farms can grow.
Nicolas Pitchon, computer science senior and owner of the medical marijuana delivery service SLO Dro Co., voted against Prop 64, but is now looking to focus on the larger market of recreational cannabis.
“I hope that Prop 64 passing will change the negative stigma associated with cannabis. That will hopefully start to generate momentum in the industry so people feel confident enough to begin investing in it,” Pitchon said. “California’s recreational cannabis industry is projected to be an $8 billion industry. That’s game-changing.”
With the election results, Pitchon hopes it will also put pressure on the federal government to reform marijuana laws on a nationwide scale. With the current laws in place, it makes it difficult to run his business, he said.
“Cannabis is illegal federally, and banks are federally insured, so we aren’t allowed to get a bank account for a business that deals with actual cannabis,” Pitchon said. “I’m forced to operate a cash-only business, which limits who can order from us.”
SLO Dro Co. was denied a bank account from two banks in San Luis Obispo, but that’s not the only problem he has faced. According to Pitchon, current federal regulations that were enacted long before any states had legalized marijuana prohibit the deduction of expenses incurred in the business of trafficking a controlled substance.
“Businesses selling marijuana usually can’t deduct their expenses thanks to the regulations,” Pitchon said. “The only thing I can deduct from is my cost to grow.”
Prop 64 eliminates all marijuana-related penalties for people under 18 years old — they will now receive community service and drug education instead of fines or jail time. All adults who are caught breaking new marijuana laws, including possessing or growing over the legal limit, will receive less jail time and/or lower fines for their crimes than they did before the proposition passed.
In addition, police can no longer use paraphernalia or the smell of marijuana as grounds to search personal spaces. Now that the prop passed, anyone in California who has been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony involving marijuana may petition to have their punishments reduced or their
As far as driving under the influence, it’s illegal to have an unsealed container of cannabis in any vehicle, or drive while impaired. California, unlike Colorado and Washington, has not established a threshold for a legal level of THC allowance, because blood alcohol content isn’t a good way to measure how impaired an individual is. However, some of the tax revenue generated from the prop would go toward finding better tests to measure driving under the influence.
University Spokesman Matt Lazier restated that there were 16 drug related citations/arrests and 22 drug related judicial referrals at Cal Poly in 2015. While the University Police Department doesn’t categorize the report into different types of drugs in each case, the department reports that the vast majority of such cases involve marijuana, according to Lazier.
According to a statement from the CSU Chancellor’s Office, the CSU doesn’t anticipate a change in policy and will focus on remaining in compliance with federal law regardless of whether or not Prop 64 has passed.
“The Drug-Free School and Communities Act and Drug Free Workplace Act require that we certify that we are taking all reasonable measures to prevent the illegal use of drugs on our campuses. As noted, drugs are defined under federal law to include marijuana (by way of the Controlled Substances Act),” according to the statement.