California's cannabis freedom comes with rules

- California's cannabis law was decades in the making with more and more folks defying the prohibition. On January 1, cannabis supporters got what they wished for. Now, they have to navigate through legal and social minefields.

All day today, there was a line out the door at the Berkeley Patients Group, a cannabis dispensary on San Pablo Avenue.

Now, newcomers and long-time users must deal with what folks in Walnut Creek describes as social expectations and laws.

"Oh, I do believe so. In apartment buildings, things like that, the attitude is that it's bad, second hand smoke. You can't sell me on the fact that marijuana is not just as bad," said Gerald Watters. "I do think that cigarettes introduce a lot more toxins into the environment than weed does, but I do imagine that it will ideally be out apart from everyone who doesn't want to smell it," said Suzanna Thomas.

"Also I think that too, especially with kids and especially in downtown areas like this if it's gonna be that they have no smoking laws, people aren't gonna be smoking just the way they do cigarettes," said Matt Trowbridge.

First, there is no smoking in public, and state law has specific rules forbidding anyone from lighting up within 1,000 feet of a school or a daycare center when children are present. Possession by those under age 21 is prohibited. Even for those over 21, you're limited to possess no more than one ounce.

Generally, California law treats cannabis like alcohol. There's no smoking while driving. And, there's no smoking anywhere where tobacco is prohibited and now, users will be getting an earful from those who don't want to smell it or its second hand smoke. It's up to cities to decide if it will allow smoking at sales sites, but as with cigar bars, all employees might have to be consenting owners for smoking to be allowed. Taking cannabis anywhere where it might be subject to Federal screening, such as at an airport or border checkpoint, could result in substantial legal liability.

Only those over age 21, can legally grow no more than six marijuana plants at home. "Not everyone's for weed, you know. It might be annoying to some people, but, at the same time, people can probably enjoy what they've been doing for a while now, just more legally and more regulated," said Cooper Timmerman.

Depending on user conduct, the cities, county and state will determine what level of enforcement will be needed. Look for many more dispensaries in the coming weeks and month and, a lot more smoking.
 

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