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How Can I Legally Smoke Marijuana in California?

Residents and tourists must understand the laws to avoid arrest

By Doug Mentes, Esq. on May 28, 2019
Updated on June 11, 2020

As of January 2018, it’s legal to smoke marijuana in the state of California. This is good news for the many residents and potential tourists to the state. However, there are still many laws in place that restrict the use of cannabis in California. Residents and tourists must understand these laws or they put themselves at risk of not only a bad trip, but arrest.

Who can smoke?

Adults ages 21 years and over, whether a California resident or not, can smoke. An individual can purchase, daily, approximately 1 ounce (28.5 grams) of the smokable stuff—as well as small amounts of oils, edibles and similar products. Adults between 18 and 21 years of age can only smoke with a physician’s recommendation, or state of California medical marijuana ID card. To purchase marijuana there are approximately 1,700 marijuana dispensaries located throughout the state; you just have to show a government-approved form of ID, like a driver’s license.

Where can I smoke pot?

Perhaps the biggest concern for pot users is where they can get high. The blunt response is that, while pot is legal, nearly all property in California—public or otherwise—is off-limits to marijuana use. There are a few small pockets of legal use, and the largest of those legal locations for use are private residences.

There is no restriction for Californians or their guests to smoke in their private homes if they are the owner of the residence. However, for those that are renters of their homes, or short-term lodging guests, the property owner or landlord can ban marijuana use on their property. And many do. If you are in the unfortunate position to be living or staying in a property that bans use of marijuana, there are a few options left.

The law legalizing marijuana in California made use within smoking lounges legal. Most lounges are connected to dispensaries. California cities can outlaw smoking lounges within their limits, and many have, but most California smoking lounges are clustered around the largest cities and tourist areas.

More and more, lounges are being planned as cities determine whether to allow them. Further, a growing location for legal use is marijuana-accepted lodging. There are many resorts, Airbnb listings, and events that allow marijuana smoking on their premises. A quick Google search will point out a host of providers marketing themselves to pot smokers.

What else should users know?

Transporting marijuana will be an issue for most users, and the law is strict in this area. Users cannot smoke in their vehicles, or any type of transportation vehicle, for that matter. If someone is going to transport his or her pot or edible, it must be in the unbroken, sealed container it was purchased in—or in an acceptable childproof container. Otherwise, opened containers must be stored in a locked space outside the cab, such as a vehicle’s trunk.

If police suspect use while driving they will treat it, like driving under the influence of alcohol—a very serious offense. There is no developed testing method for determining whether a driver is impaired by marijuana. Police will look for certain signs of marijuana impairment from a driver—signs that, unfortunately, are sometimes present in unimpaired drivers. Anyone using or transporting marijuana should be cautious and consider public transportation or taxis to get themselves around while using. Users leaving a smoking lounge or legal smoking event and getting in their vehicles may be sitting ducks for law enforcement.

There is still the concern with federal law enforcement, as any possession of marijuana is still illegal under federal law. However, at least as of late 2018, there appears to be no efforts by federal law enforcement to step in.

Residents and tourists should ensure they are prepared for any questioning from law enforcement while possessing, transporting, or using marijuana. They should bookmark experienced southern California criminal defense attorneys, or their counterparts in northern California and San Diego, all of whom are ready to step in and protect someone facing trouble.

For more information on this area of law, see our overviews of criminal defense and drug and alcohol violations.

How Can I Legally Smoke Marijuana in California? – an article appearing in Super Lawyers Magazine February 2018

Is it legal to smoke weed at home? UK cannabis laws explained

  • 5 Nov 2020, 8:30
  • Updated : 5 Nov 2020, 8:40

CANNABIS use is a hotly contested topic the world over – but what are the rules in the UK?

Here we explain the laws surrounding smoking weed, and if it is ok to do it in your own home.

Is it legal for people to smoke cannabis if it’s in their own home?

Cannabis, marijuana or weed is classified as a Class B drug, putting it in the same category as ketamine and amphetamine.

Just because someone is using the drug within their own premises doesn’t make it legal.

And the pungent, slightly floral smell of someone smoking cannabis is often hard to disguise and most people won’t want the stench creeping over into their gardens or homes.

Despite specialist doctors being granted the ability to prescribe cannabis oil on November 1, clinicians say the prospect of legalising smokeable marijuana is unlikely.

How is cannabis classified and what are the penalties?

At present, it is a class B, with very limited exceptions.

You can get up to two years in prison for possession of cannabis.

But the penalty for possession would be up to five years in prison if it is decided that there was an intent to supply

If you’re under 18, the police are allowed to tell your parent, guardian or carer that you’ve been caught with drugs.

Police can issue a warning or an on-the-spot fine of £90 if you’re found with cannabis.

If I call the police, will my neighbours find out it was me who dobbed them in?

No. Police will never give away a caller’s identity and your neighbour will not be informed that a complaint came from a neighbour.

A police spokeswoman said that officers might also use tip-offs to advise where they go on patrol.

Then, if the officers were to smell cannabis themselves, they might knock on the door and investigate that way.

The resulting punishment for the user depends on many different variables including how much cannabis the smoker is in possession of and whether they’ve been caught with it before.

If you are caught with the drug cops can issue an on-the-spot fine if you have less than one ounce.

Where is it legal to smoke weed?

There are a number of countries where you can smoke weed without getting into trouble.

Canada, some parts of the US and within size limit in Mexico it is all ok.

Belize, Jamaica and Argentina are also ok with the use of the drug.

Uruguay, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain and Australia all have decriminalised possession of cannabis.

How is cannabis classified and what are the penalties?

Cannabis remains illegal to possess, grow, distribute or sell in the UK, according to the Home Office.

Being caught with cannabis comes with a maximum of five years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.

While being convicted of producing and supplying the Class-B drug carries up to 14 years behind bars, an unlimited fine, or both.

Police can issue a warning or on-the-spot fine if you’re caught with a small amount – generally less than one ounce – if it is deemed for personal use.

Where is weed smoking legal?

Weed has been legalised for personal use in a number of countries, including Norway, the Netherlands and Portugal, which decriminalised the use of all drugs in 2001.

Recently it has also become legal for medical and recreational use across much of the United States, with California the most recent state to allow it for recreational use.

In 2018 Canada legalised cannabis for recreational use, only the second nation to do so.

Campaigners have highlighted the potential health benefits of cannabis, but only when used in moderation.

Is it illegal to smoke cannabis in your own home in the UK and what can you do if your neighbours are smoking weed