2016 brought many changes to the legal status of marijuana nationwide. Numerous states had marijuana issues on the ballot, and many of the passed new or modified existing marijuana laws. Marijuana is currently legal in several states, including California. It is also medically allowed in even more. By 2018 the commercial sale of cannabis for adult use will begin in California as well, and it is already available in several other states. The growing evidence that cannabis and its compounds can have a beneficial effect on the body and the brain is leading to wider acceptance. Read on to learn more about the legal status of marijuana in the United States, where marijuana is legal, what the law is in California, and what is coming in the future.
Legalization of Marijuana in the United States
Marijuana was legal in the United States until the 1930s. Prior to that time cannabis and hashish were commonly used as and in medical treatments, and the plant was grown commercially on farms for rope making and use in other textiles like canvas. After cannabis was made illegal in the late 30’s, various attempts have been made to change its legal status at both state and federal levels. In fact, 2016 once again saw an attempt to reduce federal restrictions and change the classification, but the Drug Enforcement Administration denied the attempt, and cannabis remains a Schedule 1 controlled substance at the federal level. Schedule 1 drugs are considered the most dangerous with the greatest potential for abuse.
While it remains federally illegal, the government does allow each state to create their own marijuana laws, as long as they meet certain guidelines for regulation. In 1996 the first state, California, moved to take advantage of this system, approving the California Compassionate Use Act to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. Lawmakers and voters have continued to discuss cannabis legalization and make changes to its legal status around the U.S. and in many of its territories. These laws include reductions in the penalties or reduced criminalization, decriminalization, medical use only, and recreation use laws around the country. Laws have continued to progress, allowing more and more freedom to use cannabis as a medical treatment, and to study the effects of it and its chemical compounds more thoroughly.
Where is Marijuana Legal?
Since the first states began to legalize cannabis over 20 years ago, the number of states where you can legally access marijuana has grown considerably. The 2016 election year saw even more states legalize weed – either entirely or for medicinal purposes. Business Insider indicated that nearly half the states in the U.S. have legalized cannabis in some form. The majority of the states have approved medical use either with or without additional laws to decriminalize possession, while eight states and the Washington DC have voted for complete legalization or both recreational and medicinal use. Even in some states where marijuana remains illegal, the penalties associated with possession have been reduced. Although cannabis may be legal in some form, all states have specific requirements that individuals must follow to have marijuana legally. Certain states that have legalized medical use marijuana only allow CBD. Check your local laws for more information on your state.
Below is a list of the current status of marijuana for the each state and the District of Columbia as of the 2016 elections. Please keep in mind marijuana laws may not yet be enacted at this time.
Marijuana Legal States:
- Washington DC
Medically Legal and Decriminalized:
- Rhode Island
Medically Legal Only:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- New York
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Marijuana Legalization in California
Medicinal marijuana has been legal in California since 1996, but the last couple of years saw some major votes that will change that status of weed in California in the future. To understand what is going on and why marijuana ID cards remain especially important in California we are going to cover the current legal state of cannabis and discuss what is coming in the future. Currently, medical cannabis is legal in the state of California. The Compassionate Use Act got rid of the criminal penalties associated with marijuana use and possession for patients who qualified. Qualified patients required an appropriate doctor’s recommendation.
Later, California voters enacted the Medical Marijuana Program Act to help offer protection to qualified medical cannabis patients and approved caregivers. This act included the use of ID cards to demonstrate proof of the legal right to purchase, carry, and use medical marijuana. The ID cards can be issued by licensed providers once a medical recommendation for cannabis use has been made. The cards are accepted at dispensaries and can be used to identify legal status in legal or judicial situations. Locations like ours allow you to be medically recommended, receive your ID card, and renew your card all at the same location. The ID cards can protect patients and approved caregivers from arrest when carrying eight ounces or less and allows them to grow up to six mature plants in their own home.
In 2016, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act or Proposition 64 was approved in California, taking a huge step forward in marijuana use legalization. This act approves the legal use of marijuana for adults in the state for both medical and recreational purposes. It decriminalizes possession and use of cannabis and looks to establish regulated commercial sale in the future. Much of the legislation related to this act will not take place until 2018, but the act paves the way to decriminalize and legalize cannabis throughout the state of California. It also works in conjunction with other recent marijuana legislation to regulate the way that legal, recreational cannabis will be sold and taxed.
What is Coming for Legal Marijuana in California
In 2018 the Adult Use of Marijuana Act and the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, which was approved in 2015, will be fully implemented in California, changing the way marijuana is used and controlled in the state. The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act is actually a combination of three bills designed to regulate the growing, transportation, manufacture, and sale of medical marijuana. The bills include:
The act will establish a regulatory body known as the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation and require licensing. Qualified patients and caregivers with a medical marijuana ID will not be required to license for personal operations under 100 square feet per patient for up to five patients. This addendum emphasizes the importance of medical marijuana ID cards even though possession has been decriminalized.
The Adult Use Act’s legal recreational sale of cannabis will also begin January 1, 2018. The new law removes the penalties associated with non-medical use, but the recreational sale does not begin until 2018. It works in conjunction with the regulation act, requiring certain regulations be met. Another key component of the Adult Use Act is the new tax it will impose on marijuana purchases along with an additional tax on weed cultivation. Qualified medical marijuana patients and approved caregivers with appropriate ID cards will be exempt from these additional taxes. This again shows that marijuana ID cards will remain important for medical patients now and in the future. For an excellent breakdown on the ins and outs of the new laws, check out this article from Time Magazine.
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law in the United States, although it has been legalized by state governments throughout the country. California was the first states to legalize weed for medical purposes. Currently, patients can receive a doctor’s recommendation for marijuana use and then receive an ID card that allows them to safely purchase and use their marijuana as medication. In the 2016 election, the state also passed a law to decriminalize marijuana and allow the recreational sale of it for adult use starting in 2018. A medical ID card will continue to offer many benefits, including not needing a license to cultivate marijuana in certain situations and being exempt from the recreational marijuana tax.
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