Cannabis Legalization as Seen through California’s Adult Use of Marijuana Act


Cannabis legalization in California is gaining momentum and support. The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), also known as the Sean Parker Initiative to Legalize Marijuana, is being officially endorsed by groups such as the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, California Cannabis Industry Association, Students for Sensible Drug PolicyLaw Enforcement Against Prohibition, and even California’s NAACP. Some recent amendments have been made to the AUMA with the general overview looking very promising for the future of legalization in the golden state.

General Guidelines for Cannabis Legalization

Public toking remains illegal.

Even with cannabis legalization, smoking in public will remain illegal, including smoking within vehicles. This becomes an even greater offense within 1,000 feet of any school. Adults can legally have up to 8 grams of bud or 1 ounce of flower. The Act still states that it is illegal for anyone aged 18 – 20 years to have more than 4 grams on their persons. These provisions raise the possibility of opening pot lounges since localities are now allowed to designate marijuana smoking areas. This may extend to include smoking in designated buses and limos. Also, while a territory might ban pot deliveries within its district, delivery people are still allowed to travel through these location. Employers are no longer required to administer urine tests.

Home Use of Marijuana

Adults are allowed to have 6 plants per household and possess all of the marijuana reaped from these harvests. Areas may ban the growing of plants outdoors but they cannot ban indoor growing. However, landlords do have the right to ban growing and even possession of marijuana on their owned premises.

An Abundance of Licenses

Starting January 1, 2018 the following types of cultivation licenses will be available:

  • Type 1 – up to 5,000 square feet
  • Type 2 – up to 10,000 square feet
  • Type 3 – up to 22,000 square feet indoors, 1 acre outdoors
  • Type 4 – for nurseries providing seeds, seedlings and immature plants
  • Type 5 – up to 22,000 square feet indoors, 1 acre outdoors (not in place until 2020)

The following licenses will also be available:

  • Type 6 – non-solvent product manufacturers
  • Type 7 – volatile solvent product manufacturers
  • Type 8 – testers
  • Type 10 – distributors
  • Type 11 – retailers
  • Type 12 – microbusinesses
A variety of licenses will be available to growers.

With the exception of testers, a licensee has permission to hold multiple licenses. Commercial plants will having tracking IDs so that sales can be monitored. There will also be a special license available for small scale growers who are their own distributors, non-volatile solvent manufacturers, and retailers.

The AUMA was amended so that license inspections can only be performed by “peace officers” with reasonable time and manner restrictions being placed. Existing medical licenses get preference and all licenses must be at least 600 feet away from schools. Districts can determine how many licenses to distribute in their areas and they can also elect to ban licenses altogether. Environmental agencies that govern natural resources will also have authority over licensing and licensees must ensure that they abide by environmental laws.

Taxation of Marijuana

Cannabis legalization will come with a 15% excise tax on pot products with additional cultivation taxes set at $9.25 per ounce of flower and $2.75 per ounce of leaves. Local, state, and national taxes will be subject to different areas’ laws and public voting.

Taxes will initially cover regulatory costs with the rest being divided as follows:

  • $10 million to public universities
  • $10 million to business and economic development
  • $3 million to the California Highway Patrol
  • $2 million to San Diego medical marijuana research

The rest will be split as follows:

  • 60% – youth drug education and prevention
  • 20% – environmental protection
  • 20% – law enforcement

Restrictions on Cannabis Advertising and Marketing

You won’t see anything like this near a school or playground.

Restrictions on advertising to children is a huge priority for the AUMA. Anything that can be deemed as appealing to children, such as cartoons, is banned on advertising that appears on media viewed by less than 71% of an adult audience and is displayed within 1,000 feet of schools and children’s play areas. This includes a ban on billboards and road signs that cross state borders. Marijuana retailers are prohibited from giving away free samples.

Marijuana-Related Criminal Offenses

Restrictions have been placed in the amended AUMA on the way local prosecutors can collect the bounty for breaking the AUMA laws. Now the bounty is being distributed to the General Fund. Those imprisoned on charges that are now legal can be released and prisoners with charges that are now considered misdemeanors of infractions can have their sentences altered according to the law changes. People with criminal records also have the ability to have their records sealed or dismissed.

Application to Medical Marijuana

Warning labels will be added to marijuana packaging for minors, women breastfeeding, and people operating heavy machinery. Stock will be tested for cannabinoid content and contaminators. Edibles can have up to 10mg of THC per serving. Parental rights of medical marijuana users have been protected as pertains to visitation, custody and other parental interests.

Hemp and Hash

Hemp may be grown as an agricultural crop on no less than one tenth of an acre but may not be singly pruned or culled. Meanwhile, hash blasting is illegal since a license is required for concentrates to be made from volatile solvents.

While the AUMA can be amended in the future to continue to advance its intentions for cannabis legalization, it will need a two-thirds majority vote to make any of its parts stricter or more rigid. Despite the many other initiatives filed, it appears that 2016 is the year for cannabis legalization through the current favorite to make the ballot this year, the Sean Parker Initiative.


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