California Voters Legalize Recreational Marijuana

The buds on marijuana plants begin to mature in a legal, commercial growing greenhouse in Monterey County, Calif., October 6, 2016. / Mark Boster / MCT Campus

The buds on marijuana plants begin to mature in a legal, commercial growing greenhouse in Monterey County, Calif., October 6, 2016. / Mark Boster / MCT Campus

For the first time in California history, recreational marijuana users can smoke the plant legally.

Adults can now possess up to an ounce of marijuana, grow and smoke the plant at home and share it with other adults following the passage of Proposition 64 on Nov. 8.

The “Adult Use of Marijuana Act” passed by 56 percent to 44 percent; it will impose regulations and restrictions on marijuana that are similar to alcohol, adding recreational smokers to the 750,000 registered medical marijuana patients statewide.

Santa Ana College student Alondra Navarrete supports the measure. She says marijuana sales could boost the state economy, but also said that it could encourage some people to abuse marijuana, as can happen with alcohol.

“California will benefit from Proposition 64, but there’s always people that would misinterpret and misuse it,” she said.

Until January 2018, there is a gray area on how recreational users can obtain marijuana. State officials have until then to implement a plan that regulates the sale of marijuana through licensing. Medical dispensaries may sell to recreational users, if they choose to, after official regulations are in place.

Recreational users will have to get marijuana from the plants they can now legally grow at home or from medicinal users for free.
Once recreational dispensaries are approved by the state, the income from taxes and licensing is estimated to add $1 billion annually to California’s economy.

The city of Santa Ana already has marijuana legislation on the books. Measure BB, which regulates medicinal marijuana collectives (also called cooperatives), was approved by voters in November 2014 and was amended by the Santa Ana City Council in April 2016 to cap the number of collectives in the city at 20 for this calendar year.

The collectives operate on regulatory safety permits, which are valid for one calendar year. They must notify the police department 60 days prior to the expiration date if they plan to renew. A collective may not legally operate without one.

According to Measure BB, collectives must meet the city’s rigorous guidelines prior to opening. Each collective is required to have on-site security, a ventilation system, and all employees must go through a criminal background check.

In 2018, Santa Ana collectives will have the choice to continue selling medical marijuana exclusively or for recreational use as well.
Santa Ana College will remains a smoke-free environment. The use of marijuana on campus will still be prohibited.

Toni Bland, chief of safety and security for the Rancho Santiago Community College District, said in an email that the implications the new state law may have for campus safety and security will be reviewed. Once district safety completes its evaluation, he said it will “share any changes to current policy with students, staff and faculty in a timely manner.”

In 2014, there were 11 drug law violations in the district, according to the annual RSCCD Annual Security Report. Seven were at Santiago Canyon College; two were at SAC.

All marijuana use is illegal according to federal law, but states can regulate marijuana use and distribution through their own ordinances.

In 1996 California voters passed Proposition 215, a measure that legalized medical marijuana use in the state. Medicinal marijuana is allowed in 25 states and Washington D.C. Recreational use is permitted in seven states and Washington D.C., including Massachusetts and Nevada which approved it Nov. 8.