Marijuana is now legal in California.
On Tuesday, voters approved Proposition 64, which makes it legal for adults over 21 years old to buy, possess and use marijuana recreationally. The overnight change to state law brought a host of new questions: Can I smoke pot in public? When can I buy it? When is it legal for me to carry it?
I am by no means an expert, but I have covered medical marijuana in the central San Joaquin Valley for about a year now. There are quick, easy answers to a lot of these questions, so here are some responses to queries posted on The Fresno Bee’s social media pages.
(Let me say first that possessing an ounce of pot or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis oil is now legal. Buying it is still illegal, as selling it requires a state license. Those licenses will likely not be given until late next year. Adults also may now have up to six plants, provided they are kept indoors.)
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Q: I own a restaurant and have been asked multiple times if we can provide a facility where people can come in and eat and dine and watch maybe a sporting event or comedy show with cannabis and Prop. 215 patients. Now that it is legal, can restaurants do this?
A: No. It is not legal to smoke marijuana in public or any place where smoking tobacco is not legal, such as bars and restaurants. There is an exemption that allows cities to create ordinances allowing marijuana smoking in designated areas, but I wouldn’t expect that in the Valley. Maybe Coalinga would, as they passed even more ordinances embracing marijuana last night.
Q: Can employers still fire you or refuse to hire you?
A: Yes. I covered that in this story last week, but the new law clearly states that employers still have a right to maintain a drug-free workplace.
Q: Are there new laws to convict for a DUI?
A: Current laws cover impairment from marijuana. A person has can get a DUI for driving while high on marijuana, and officers have been trained to spot the signs for decades.
But is there a chemical test that could aid enforcement? No. That is a major concern for law enforcement. Some of the tax revenue generated from marijuana will supposedly be used to help develop one, but that’s at least a year down the line.
Q: How will I know if my pilot or someone transporting me is high on the job?
A: I had to research this one. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, pilots are randomly drug-tested before and after flights. Whether that law is enforced, I really can’t say. Jobs that deal with safety or transportation – like trucking, for example – have much stricter drug testing requirements than other occupations.
Q: Do you smoke with your dad? (And follow up: who's your dad?)
A: No, and he is Ray Appleton, a talk show host on KMJ 580 AM 105.1 FM.
Q: Why did they drop it from a felony to a misdemeanor if you’re caught selling marijuana? That helps the illegal seller.
A: I assume it is because the state has been moving toward both decriminalization of marijuana and keeping non-violent offenders out of prison. But I don’t know for sure.
Q: Will it all be cash-only since it's federally illegal?
A: Medical marijuana companies use banks. This is something that surprised me when I first started covering the issue. Will retail dispensaries be cash-only? I don’t really know. This is a new industry. I imagine many will.
Q: Can people smoke anywhere they want or only in certain spots?
A: Basically, you can smoke in your house. All of the areas mentioned in the first response are not legal, and so is smoking within 1,000 feet of a school. The fine for smoking in public is “up to $100.” That is doubled if you are near a school.