California Law: What Recreational Cannabis Consumers Need to Know

If you read our blog from earlier this month, then you now know about the fundamental differences between hemp and cannabis – one of which being that industrial hemp is not a controlled substance.

Hemp products can be found everywhere, because if it’s <0.5% THC content. On the flip side, due to yielding high levels of THC, marijuana is a highly regulated plant. The regulations of the cannabis industry become even more complex between states.

The Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) provides the guidelines for regulation of medicinal and recreational cannabis in California. Since we’re based here in California, we’re focusing this post on the main cannabis possession and consumption laws you need to know as a recreational user in our home state.

Recreational Cannabis Law in California


Under Prop 64 (the Adult Use of Marijuana Act), adults 21 and over are legally allowed to possess, privately use, and give away up to one ounce of cannabis; and to grow no more than six plants for personal use at their residences.

(In other words, yes: you can now gift your friends with up to an ounce of “Christmas tree” every December.)

Any cannabis in excess of one ounce must be stored in your private residence, in a locked space, and not visible from a public space.


You can’t smoke, vape or ingest cannabis products in any public place. However, local governments may permit on-site consumption at state-licensed premises in their jurisdiction. 

(So, yes: San Francisco permits you to smoke cannabis at Hippie Hill every 4/20. 

Well, except for this year. 🙁  #coronavirus)

Governments still can’t permit smoking in some places, though. Under no circumstance can you smoke or vape cannabis in a non-smoking area, or within 1,000 feet of a school, day care or youth center where children may be present.

You also can’t consume cannabis, or possess an open container of cannabis, while driving or riding as a passenger in a motor vehicle, boat or airplane.It’s still up to the discretion of employers to drug test, along with landlords and local governments as to whether you can or can’t smoke cannabis on their property. As an additional note, Prop 215 (California’s medical marijuana law) still allows cannabis for legal medical use by all patients who have a physician’s recommendation, regardless of age.


As a final note, always check with your county and local dispensary to see if there are any special laws that apply to you and your area. If you are a business like we are, you can visit this website about cannabis business law to gain a better understanding of regulatory differences between localities.