California permits marijuana use, but its possession, use, and distribution for medical as well as recreational use are subject to specific regulations. The state has been at the forefront of legalizing marijuana. It legalized the medical use of marijuana in 1996 earlier than most other states. The legalization of recreational marijuana, however, started in 2016 when voters okayed the amendment on legalizing recreational use of marijuana.
Medical Marijuana Laws of California
The California Medical Marijuana Program was soon established when the medical cannabis proposition (Compassionate Use Act of 1996) was approved by the majority of voters on the 5th of November 1996. The section on the California Health and Safety Code was then modified to allow qualifying patients to legally obtain, grow, and use marijuana for medical purposes as per the recommendation of a licensed doctor. This Act likewise mandated a statewide lifting of prohibitions and penalties on the medical use of marijuana.
Subsequent amendments and Supreme Court rulings, however, clarified some of the vague wording on the Proposition 215. The Senate Bill 420, for example, of 2003 clarified the difference between patients and non-patients, and Governor, Gray Davis signed this clarification bill into law. This law likewise established an identification card system for qualifying patients and provisioned the formation of non-profit organizations or collectives that would provide the medical marijuana needs of patients. A crackdown on marijuana dispensaries, however, occurred on October 7 of 2011 that eventually subsided anyway.
Drug Possession Laws of California
The state of California still categorizes marijuana as a Schedule I hallucinogenic substance based on the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act. However, On November 8, 2016, the Proposition 64 which is also called the “Adult Use Marijuana Act” was okayed by voters and this law allowed persons aged 21 years of age or above who don’t belong to Medical Cannabis Program to legally grow up to six plants of marijuana and “to possess up to one ounce of flower and/or up to eight grams of concentrates.”
This law likewise directs the licensing of commercial cannabis production and of the retail sales of marijuana. Licenses for the cultivation and business establishment will be issued in 2018. The state however still regulates the possession, use, selling, and cultivation of marijuana, and here the concomitant penalties and punishment for the violations of these regulations:
- If you are caught possessing more than 28.5 grams, you will be charged with a misdemeanor, punishment of up to 6 months incarceration, and fine of up to $500.
- If you are caught with 28.5 grams or less and you are 18 years of age or above, and you are caught within the school grounds, you will be charged with a misdemeanor, with up to 10 days of imprisonment and a fine of up to $500.
- If you are younger than 18 years of age, you will be charged with a misdemeanor and would be penalized with a fine of up to $250 (first offense) and $500 maximum fine or commitment to a detention center for up to 10 days.
- If you are caught with intent to distribute more than one ounce of marijuana, you will be charged with a misdemeanor, with 6 months of imprisonment, and a maximum fine of $500.
- If you sell and deliver without a license any amount of marijuana, you will be charged with a misdemeanor with up to six months in jail, and a maximum fine of $500.
- If you are 18 years of age and above, and you attempted to deliver any amount of marijuana to a 14-17 years old individual, you will be charged with a felony, with 3-5 years of imprisonment.
Can Employers Require their Employers to Undergo Drug Tests?
The state of California has regulations on drug testing in the workplace. For pre-employment and after employment testing, employers can require drug tests after a conditional offer of the job has been made to an applicant. Employers, however, are not required to conduct routine or random drug testing, but they can do so under certain statutory requirements:
- If there is a reasonable suspicion that his/her use of drugs impairs an employee.
- If there was an accident that caused injury, damages, and death in the workplace.
San Francisco has enacted a city ordinance pertinent to drug testing employees. Hence, it would be wise to consult legal counsel when conducting drug testing at the workplace in San Francisco area. Employers engaged in the operation of commercial transportation can also require their employees to undergo drug tests.