FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

FOR CANNABIS CONSUMERS

Can I buy cannabis legally on January 1?

On January 1, it will become legal under California law for adults 21 or older to buy cannabis without a physician’s recommendation. You can only buy cannabis at retail outlets licensed by the California Bureau of Cannabis Control and the local licensing authority.

Keep in mind that the cultivation, possession, sale, and use of cannabis may remain unlawful under federal law, and therefore may affect immigration status. Also, employers have the right to prohibit the use of cannabis by their employees, so check your workplace policies.

 

Is my medical marijuana identification card or doctor’s recommendation still valid after January 1?

Yes, it is still valid. It is legal to purchase medical cannabis if you are 18 years of age or older and you have a current physician’s recommendation [Cal. Business and Professions Code Section 26140]. Possession, cultivation, transport and administration of medicinal cannabis is also legal for persons 18 years of age and older who have been designated as a Primary Caregiver [Cal. Health and Safety Code Section 11362.7(d)] of a patient with a valid physician’s recommendation. For more information on obtaining a Los Angeles County-issued medical marijuana identification card, please visit the Department of Public Health’s webpage.

 

How can I determine which businesses are licensed?

All cannabis businesses must have both a state and local license to operate.

You can verify the status of a business’s state license on these webpages:

To verify a business’s local license, you will need to check with the city the business is located in.  To determine in which city a business is located, you can enter the address in the Registrar Recorder’s address lookup site.

The LA County Office of Cannabis Management is developing a universal emblem that must be displayed by all licensed cannabis retailers in unincorporated County areas and in cities that participate in the emblem program. Much like a restaurant letter grade, the emblem will provide consumers with an easy way to know whether a retailer is licensed.

 

Are products required to be tested for potency and quality?

Not initially. Until July 1, 2018, retailers can legally sell cannabis products that were produced before the testing requirements took effect. However, any cannabis that has not been tested will need to be clearly labeled as such.

Testing will be required for all cannabis products cultivated or manufactured after January 1. Requirements for testing will be phased in over the next year, starting with contaminants that pose the greatest health risks.

 

Where can I consume cannabis?

You can use cannabis on private property. If you rent, keep in mind that landlords have the right to limit or prohibit cannabis use on their privately-owned properties. It is illegal to smoke cannabis in public places or anywhere that tobacco smoking is prohibited.Under state law, cannabis consumption may be permitted on the premises of a cannabis retailer, but only if the local jurisdiction allows it. Please check with your local licensing body to find out if businesses licensed for commercial cannabis consumption are permitted and where they are located.Do not drive after consuming cannabis. If you operate a vehicle while under the influence of cannabis, you may be subject to arrest.

 

Can I grow cannabis in my home?

Under state law, adults 21 or older can cultivate up to six cannabis plants in or on the grounds of their private residence. The plants must be in a locked space and not visible to the public. Many cities and counties limit or prohibit outdoor cannabis cultivation, and some may require growers to obtain a permit. Check with your local jurisdiction to find out their rules. If you live in an unincorporated area of Los Angeles County, click here for a summary of the rules and requirements for personal cannabis cultivation. Remember that it is illegal to sell any amount of cannabis without obtaining state and local licenses. It is also illegal and extremely dangerous, having caused damage to property and even loss of life, to use volatile solvents such as butane for manufacturing concentrated cannabis at home.

 

Can I use cannabis while driving?

Although some people feel that they can drive safely while under the influence of cannabis, it is illegal under state law. Police departments will continue to treat driving under the influence of cannabis the same as any other controlled substance, such as alcohol.

 

What are my rights as someone who does not consume cannabis?

If you do not consume cannabis and do not wish to be exposed, the law provides a level of protection to you from contact. Smoking in public places or any place where tobacco smoking is not permitted is forbidden under state law, and cannabis businesses are restricted from operating near schools and other sensitive use locations.

What if I can smell smoke in my apartment from my neighbor? Your landlord may choose to permit or forbid recreational cannabis use in their buildings. Please contact your landlord to report issues and resolve any conflicts.

 

What if I see someone smoking cannabis in public?

If you have concerns about a person or people regularly consuming cannabis in a public place, please contact your city or local police department.

 

Are there different laws for medical and adult-use (recreational) cannabis?

Many of the same laws that apply to adult-use cannabis also apply to the medicinal use of cannabis by qualified patients. However, there are certain differences between adult-use and medical cannabis laws, which are summarized in this handout.

FOR THOSE LOOKING TO OPEN A CANNABIS BUSINESS

How can I get a license to operate a cannabis business?

Start by checking with your local jurisdiction to determine whether they allow cannabis businesses, and what their requirements are.

 

If you are unsure which jurisdiction you are in, you can find out by entering your address in the Registrar Recorder’s address lookup site.  On the results page, look for the sixth entry on the list, which will be either “Unincorporated…” or “City of…”. If the location you are concerned with is a city, it will have its own government and may have its own unique regulations for commercial cannabis businesses. All unincorporated areas are under the jurisdiction of the County of Los Angeles with regulations requiring approval by the Board of Supervisors.

 

If you are located within an incorporated city, please contact that city to inquire about their regulations.

 

If you are located in an unincorporated area of Los Angeles County, please note that all cannabis businesses and activities are prohibited at this time. This includes cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, testing, and retail sale of both medical and adult-use cannabis. This ban will remain in place until the County adopts a comprehensive regulatory framework for cannabis businesses. Note that the State will not issue licenses to cannabis businesses within the unincorporated areas of the County while the ban remains in effect.

 

For information on state cannabis licenses, please click here.

 

Can I open a business now and get a license later?

No. It is illegal to operate a cannabis business or engage in commercial cannabis activity without first obtaining all required state and local licenses/permits. Operating an unlicensed commercial cannabis business may impact your ability to receive a commercial cannabis license in the future.

FOR INFORMATION ON THE COUNTY’S CANNABIS REGULATIONS

Will the County be issuing cannabis licenses/permits?

Currently, all cannabis businesses are banned in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. This ban will remain in place until the County adopts a comprehensive regulatory framework for cannabis businesses.

The County established the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) in late 2016 to develop cannabis policies for the unincorporated areas, in collaboration with numerous County departments. The OCM released a set of draft policies in December 2017, which will be presented to the Board of Supervisors for consideration during a public hearing in early 2018.

At this time, it is not known when the County will begin accepting applications or issuing licenses to cannabis businesses. Prospective business operators are encouraged to sign up for the OCM’s email listserv to receive updates on cannabis policy development for the unincorporated areas.

 

How did the OCM develop its draft policies for cannabis regulation?

From May through August 2017, the OCM conducted extensive outreach to solicit feedback on stakeholder desires and concerns for commercial cannabis regulations, including twenty public listening sessions held throughout the County, numerous presentations to community groups and town councils, and convening of an Advisory Working Group with members representing a diverse range of fields and perspectives. Both the public input received during the listening sessions and the consensus-based recommendations provided by the Advisory Working Group were key in shaping the draft policies.

Policy goals and objectives identified by the County Board of Supervisors also served as key guides in developing the draft policies. These include protecting public health, promoting equity, protecting public safety, protecting quality of life in communities, promoting health equity, and protecting the environment. Many of these objectives were articulated in motions adopted by the Board in February 2017 and November 2017.

 

How can I remain engaged?

Please visit the OCM’s website, and sign up for our email listserv, to receive updates on cannabis policy development for the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County.

FOR PROPERTY OWNERS

Can I lease space to a cannabis business?

If your property is located in an unincorporated area of Los Angeles County, note that all cannabis businesses and activities are currently prohibited. This includes cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, testing, and retail sale of both medical and adult-use cannabis. In the unincorporated areas, those who rent property to cannabis businesses may be subject to significant civil and criminal penalties.

If your property is located within an incorporated city, check with that city to find out whether they permit cannabis businesses. If you are unsure which jurisdiction you are in, you can find out by entering your address in the Registrar Recorder’s address lookup site.

 

Can I prevent my tenants from growing or using cannabis in my units?

Yes. Under state law, property owners have the right to limit or prohibit the cultivation and/or use of cannabis on their properties.

UNLICENSED CANNABIS BUSINESSES

How can I report an unlicensed cannabis business?

To submit a complaint to the State’s cannabis licensing agencies, or to search for open enforcement cases, please click here.

 

To report cannabis businesses operating illegally in the County’s unincorporated areas, please contact the Department of Regional Planning’s Zoning Enforcement section at (213) 974-6453, email ZoningEnforcement@planning.lacounty.gov, or call 211.

 

What is the County doing to close unlicensed cannabis businesses?

In March 2016, the County’s Board of Supervisors created the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Enforcement Team (MMDET) to coordinate efforts among multiple County departments tasked with closing down illegal medical marijuana dispensaries in the unincorporated areas. Information on the MMDET’s efforts is available here and here.

 

In December 2017, the OCM released recommendations for regulating cannabis, one of which is to prepare an “unlicensed cannabis business elimination plan” that would identify additional strategies beyond the MMDET’s direct enforcement efforts.

 

The LA County Office of Cannabis Management is developing a universal emblem that must be displayed by all licensed cannabis retailers in unincorporated County areas and in cities that participate in the emblem program. Much like a restaurant letter grade, the emblem will provide consumers with an easy way to know whether a retailer is licensed, and encourage conscientious consumers to shop at licensed businesses.

FOR PARENTS AND TEENS

How should I talk to my child or teen about cannabis, now that it is legal?

A variety of informational resources are available for parents and teens who have questions regarding cannabis, including the California Department of Public Health’s recently launched education campaign, “Let’s Talk Cannabis.” Links to additional resources can be found on the Office of Cannabis Management’s webpage.

 

What is the County doing to prevent young people from using cannabis?

The Department of Public Health is currently developing an outreach program directed towards youth and parents regarding the risks of cannabis use. Concerned parents can also find educational resources through DPH’s website.

The draft policies include buffering retail cannabis stores from many areas where youth congregate, such as schools and parks.

 

What are the penalties if someone under 21 uses cannabis?

If a person under the age of 18 is convicted for possession of less than one ounce of cannabis or 4 grams of concentrated cannabis, they will need to complete a drug education program and complete up to 20 hours of community service. If they are convicted of possessing more than one ounce of cannabis or 4 grams of concentrated cannabis, they will need to complete up to 10 hours 10 hours of drug education and 60 hours of community service.

 

If a person over the age of 18 but under the age of 21 is convicted for possession of less than one ounce of cannabis or 4 grams of concentrated cannabis, they are guilty of an infraction and may be fined up to $100. If any person over the age of 18 possesses over one ounce of cannabis or 4 grams of concentrated cannabis, they may be fined up to $500 and may be placed in jail for up to 6 months. In conjunction with the legal penalties, it is important to consider the adverse health effects which are correlated to youth exposure. According to the Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy, youth who use cannabis regularly are more likely to have reduced educational attainment and educational development, adverse changes in the brain which impact learning and memory, declining IQ scores, and higher dropout rates.

What is the County doing to prevent young people from using cannabis?

The Department of Public Health is currently developing an outreach program directed towards youth and parents regarding the risks of cannabis use. Concerned parents can also find educational resources through DPH’s website.

The draft policies include buffering retail cannabis stores from many areas where youth congregate, such as schools and parks.