On November 8, 2016, voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada approved ballot measures to legalize recreational cannabis. It is now legal for recreational use in in a total of 8 states (including the 4 mentioned above, the other states are Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.) States where medical marijuana is legal: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii and Illinois.
Who can legally consume marijuana in California? As of November 9, 2016, adults, 21 and older, can legally consume marijuana without having a doctor’s note for medical use. But you cannot legally purchase it for recreational use until January 1, 2018. Adults can possess up to an ounce of marijuana buds, 8 grams of cannabis concentrate, or grow up to six marijuana plants.
THERE ARE STILL HOWEVER CRIMINAL PENALTIES THAT APPLY TO MARIJUANA UNDER PROPOSITION 64. Adults carrying or possessing more than an ounce of marijuana will continue to face misdemeanor charges, a $500 fine, and the risk of being in jail for up to 6 months. Under this proposition, you are not allowed to smoke in public areas, or places where tobacco smoking is prohibited. It is only legal in private property. A fine of $100 is issued if smoking in public and a fine of $250 if you are caught smoking in places where tobacco smoking is prohibited.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS is also another area where smoking marijuana will still be illegal. The effects of alcohol vary based on a person’s size, weight, metabolic rate, related food intake, and the type/amount of alcoholic beverage consumed. Even so, alcohol consumption produces fairly straightforward results: the more you drink, the worse you drive.
Factors such as body size and drinking experience can shift the correlation slightly, but there is enough confidence in the blood alcohol content scale for legally determining driving under the influence of alcohol. But this is not the case with marijuana. Both alcohol and marijuana affect mental function and impairs driving ability.
But unlike alcohol, evidence of cannabis use can linger long after its effects have worn off, particularly if people are regular users or consume a lot in a single episode. Among chronic users, it may not clear out of their systems for weeks. Therefore, unlike blood alcohol concentration, the presence and amount of different cannabis compounds in the blood or urine do not necessarily tell you whether the driver is impaired due to marijuana. Thus, the importance of the officer’s field sobriety test will be critical in determining if a person is impaired.
The voters in the states that have legalized marijuana have spoken clearly about whether it should be legally allowable. But the law is not without boundaries—criminal consequences and even employment consequences to the use of this drug are still and will continue to be enforced. While marijuana has become legal in California, it can still get you fired–more on this issue in a later article.
Be safe and Happy Thanksgiving!
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