Consumer’s Introduction to the New Proposed Cannabis Regulations

Deb Tharp | December 5, 2017 | 24 Comments

This article serves merely as an introduction to the new proposed cannabis regulations; it’s not intended to offer any legal advice or serve as a replacement for legal counsel. Additionally, the information pertains to emergency regulations that are still developing and could change over the next few weeks. Anyone seeking to start a cannabis businesses or has questions about personal consumption and/or cultivation should seek a licensed attorney.


If you’re wondering where you can buy weed legally on January 1, 2018, you aren’t alone. It turns out that very few California areas are choosing to allow legal cannabis sales, so it may be harder than you thought to find a recreational shop. Even if you’re lucky enough to live near one, you’ll find the weed will be more expensive.


So how will the new proposed regulations (beware they’re long) affect you and your wallet?



What Records Will Be Kept When I Purchase Cannabis Legally?


Record keeping requirements (defined on page 57) involve:


  • The first name of the customer.
  • A special number assigned to the customer.
  • What he/she bought.
  • When he/she bought.
  • How much he/she bought.
  • How much he/she paid.


The assumption is this info will be used to track whether you’re buying or carrying more than the legally allowed amount. By doing so the government can prevent the criminal sale of cannabis, a likely scenario considering the vast areas banning legal sales.


How Much Cannabis Can I Buy?



There are very strict limits on how much recreational weed users can obtain. You can purchase and transport up to 28.5 grams (an ounce) of flower or 8 grams of concentrate at a time for personal use. Larger amounts will be subject to criminal penalty.


This probably won’t affect the casual user. It won’t prove to be much of a hardship, even for those who must drive long distances because of local bans. On the other hand, this could prove rough on some medical users attempting to fly under the radar to avoid potentially negative consequences of being a cannabis patient.


Why You Want to Keep or Get Your Medical Recommendation



There are numerous benefits to having your medical marijuana recommendation in 2018. 


  • A lower age limit of 18, not 21 like all recreational users.
  • MMJ patients can walk-in and/or order from more than 1,000 dispensaries now; plus there’s a wider array of quality cannabis products to enjoy.
  • A recommendation permits the possession and transportation of medical cannabis without fear of legal reprisal.
  • Recreational users will pay up to a 45% tax in state and local fees. Medical cannabis patients are exempt, though they’ll pay a small tax come January. Until then, medical cannabis is tax-free.
  • Cannabis patients are allowed to carry up to eight ounces at a time. Otherwise, it’d be more likely authorities would assume you’re engaging in illegal sales, even with a rec.


Get your medical recommendation and/or ID card quickly, easily and professionally with NuggMD, the leading telemedicine platform. The process is fast, affordable, and easy to use. Sign up online and in about fifteen minutes you can become a cannabis patient. Your medical recommendation is only $49.


After getting your NuggMD recommendation, you’ll need to go through the state’s medical marijuana program to receive your official ID card. It’ll cost about $100 and $50 for Medi-Cal patients. You’ll have to submit your application in-person at your local county program location, which has 30 days to validate it.


If you spend more than $100 a month on cannabis, it makes fiscal sense to spend the $139 to renew your existing MMJ rec and get a state-issued ID card instead of paying the sales tax. 


Can I Still Get Delivery?



Some jurisdictions are choosing to ban medical marijuana deliveries. Prop 64 permits them, though it doesn’t allow local roads to be closed off to delivery drivers. This means delivery drivers can use these roads, but only for traveling through a city or county with a delivery ban. They can’t deliver in the city or county itself.


Unfortunately, a backlash has been taking place in several conservative districts, citing concerns over crime and child use. The lack of delivery leaves traveling to a storefront dispensary as the only option for patients or their caregivers if they’re unable to grow their own medical cannabis.


Fortunately, very few districts are choosing ban MMJ delivery; however it’s still a good idea to check your local ordinances and see what’ll be allowed. Your local city council, planning department or county board should be able to answer this question quickly.


Nugg, California’s largest online cannabis marketplace, provides medical cannabis delivery across the state. Just enter your address to get a list of local dispensaries that’ll deliver MMJ products to your door in about an hour. Even compare prices, discover new products, and read reviews before ordering. 


Remember, if a delivery service like Nugg is prohibited in your area, don’t try to entice anyone to illegally deliver your product or ask a friend to get it. That might be tempting, especially if you’re in medical need, but the penalties are steep fines and possible criminal charges. Ultimately, local governments must be forced to consider the situation reasonably and compassionately—or be replaced.


Can I Smoke Cannabis in Public?



Simply lighting up on the street will likely result in a fine. Most local zoning ordinances control where you can smoke marijuana, and most will forbid public consumption (see Health and Safety Code 11362.3). If cigarettes are banned, joints are definitely out too. You can’t smoke near daycares, schools or other public areas where children gather.


You’re better off lighting up in the privacy of home or at a cannabis bar that allows on-site consumption. And don’t even think of lighting up in your car. You can and will get stopped for driving under the influence, and passengers who light up can land you in the hot seat too.


Can I Grow My Own Cannabis?



Absolutely; but whether you can grow it outdoors or only indoors is up to your local jurisdiction. The new proposed regulations don’t really address growing for personal use. But almost all local governments have developed or are developing local rules for personal cultivation.


These rules range from simple, allowing growing six plants outdoors with little regulation, to complex, requiring construction of separate, secure buildings with special fencing, locks, and strict environmental controls.


On the bright side, you won’t need a grower’s rec if you’re only planning to grow your legally allowed six plants. If you want more, you must sign up for a cultivator’s license or a microbusiness license. You could grow more if a doctor recommends it, but the new laws have closed many pre-Prop 64 loopholes. You should seek legal counsel before growing a significant amount (see Health and Safety Code 11362.77).


Can I Give Away My Personal Cannabis?



New proposed regulations don’t affect your ability to give away up to 28.5 grams of flower or up to eight grams of concentrate to adults 21 or older. There can be absolutely no compensation. However, don’t expect freebies from retailers anymore; giving away product to recreational users is strictly forbidden.


What About Cannabis Cups?



Trade shows and cannabis events will still be permitted, but the record keeping requirements will be just as stringent as any cannabis business. This includes records for composting or destroying cannabis, and documentation of all tracking and financial records for at least seven years.


Cannabis events will now be strictly limited to those 21 and over. A medical patient under this age is no exception. Alcohol and/or tobacco consumption will be strictly prohibited, so no cigarette breaks on show grounds. Free samples are also a no-go here, as they’d be subject to the same restrictions as all cannabis businesses.


Will I Still Be Able to Find My Favorite Cannabis Products?



In many cases, no. The Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch created their own set of emergency regulations requiring specific limits on product concentrations and shapes. Some food products are strictly prohibited, like cannabis-infused seafood (probably wise) and edibles that look like commercially available, kid-friendly candies.


The requirements for licensing certain types of products are so extensive that some businesses aren’t finding it financially feasible to continue (read more about them here).


Stay Informed on All New Regulations


These are by no means a summary of all the new regulations coming into effect. The three branches of California’s cannabis control are each proposing new regulations, along with environmental and water control agencies.


Here’s a list of the new regulations California’s cannabis community will need to become familiar with over the upcoming months:


About Deb Tharp

Deb Tharp is a cannabis activist, consultant, and writer. She began her cannabis activism at the age of 18, helping local candidates campaign door-to-door in the Midwest. Little did she know that the plant would save her husband's life a decade later. After watching him recover 60 pounds to his skeletal frame in a matter of months, she was convinced that the war on weed must end. She ran for State Assembly in 2010 while completing her bachelor's degree at University of California, Irvine. During her campaign, she managed to bring cannabis legalization to the forefront of the debate. Little more than a year later, she was publicly arrested while gathering signatures for a cannabis ballot initiative in Orange County. She fired back at the county by qualifying Measure CC in Santa Ana under Kandice Hawes' of OC Norml’s expert leadership. In the following years, she authored, qualified and helped to qualify over a dozen local legalization ballot initiatives across the state while teaching other activists how to do the same. She currently writes for Nugg, the nation's largest online cannabis marketplace, while pursuing her law degree at Taft Law School and will graduate in 2021.


  • Daniel Schrader

    One more advantage to retaining your Medical Recommendation is that if you have one, you can use your HSA/FSA account to purchase – which means that not only are you exempt from sales tax, but you are using pre-income tax $ for your purchase – that can be as much as a 39% savings (depending on your tax rate)

  • Petey Wheatstraw

    While the state will likely benefit from this law regular card holding medical patients will see a slight increase in their weed prices and many of their favorite strains, shops and brands basically zoned out of existence. I’m sensing a trend here. MAGA anyone?

  • Arnie

    So I have a medical recommendation already. Do I have to go and get a state I’d card? I just got my recommendation do I need to renew it after the 1st.l?

    • Debbie Tharp

      Medical recs provide Prop 215 protections, and they always will as long as you have a doctor that will back you up in court, but you’ll need the state card to avoid the heavy taxes that are about to come down on recreational consumers. It’s actually a pretty easy process.

      • Pat Malo

        I’ve read all the Q&A’s but can’t find specific answers to my concerns, so I hope you will address them or point me to answers I may have missed!

        I live in Sonoma County and my MMJ usage is far below $100/mo. My NuggMD card expires at the end of January. Getting a State Issued ID card for an additional $100 doesn’t seem to make financial sense based on my purchase history, so why should I even renew my NuggMD card for $39? What additional advantage(s) would I get beyond just being a recreational purchaser from now on? The MMJ quantities available to and “Adult” user vs. a “Medical” user are more than sufficient for me.

        Also, since the cost of a NuggMD card renewal ($39) is the same as a new doctor’s recommendation, what disadvantage would there be in letting my current recommendation lapse and then getting a new one in a few months, if I still need one?

        Thanks for your info and advice!

        • Debbie Tharp

          Whether to use cannabis as an adult-user or medical user is a very personal decision. I can understand that the decision isn’t easy, but it isn’t my place to tell you whether you should or should not. The best I can do is give you a list of the benefits for use to help you make a more informed choice. In short:
          *No state sales and use taxes
          *Greater protections for parental rights
          *Greater protection from arrest if carrying more than one ounce
          *Larger standard possession limits (up to eight ounces)
          *Even larger possession limits if your doctor prescribes
          *Larger cultivation allowances in many jurisdictions
          *Lower age limit to purchase (18 years for medical, vs. 21 years for recreational)
          *Access to more dispensaries across the state

          The last one may be even more important now since so many districts are banning recreational sales. I’m going to add your general question to my list for further elaboration, and on the next update, I will include a more detailed explanation of these benefits. All the best to you in your decision-making process, and thank you for your fantastic question.

          • Pat Malo

            Hi Debbie and thanks for all that great info! But I’ve already decided I don’t need the extra protections or quantities of MJ available to a patient so I don’t need a CA State-issued MMJ ID card. My question is: is there any reason now to get JUST a NuggMD ID card showing a Dr. recommendation? What does just that card provide beyond what is now available to every adult recreational user?

            Thanks again!

    • Steffie

      My question is, My recommendation doesn’t expire until July…I have been going to my dispensary since July… Why do I need a ID card ? So what I’m understanding even with my medical recommendation that the taxes on my purchases is going to be higher now without the ID card?

      • Debbie Tharp

        That is correct. You’re going to get taxes with either type of purchase though. Your MMID exempts you from the state sales tax, which ranges between 7% and 10.25%. You’ll still have to pay the 15% excise tax, and any local selling taxes.

  • Kristine Everett

    What about drug testing for employment????

  • Linda Newson Broadnax

    My question, when applying for a job, does your cannabis card show up on your Lives can? My DL#?

    • Debbie Tharp

      There are actually strict protections regarding your privacy as a medical marijuana patient in California. Employers aren’t allowed to go digging into your medical history. In fact, people who have MMID cards have them because they are diagnosed with serious illness, so I would think that showing a person’s MMID card in a pre-employment background check would constitute grounds for discrimination in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act, and also equal opportunity employer provisions. In other words, it’d be a heck of a discrimination lawsuit if they did.

      However, they ARE allowed to drug test, and they are allowed to fire you if it is in your system, as unfair as that may seem. So, if you have the kind of job that subjects you to random drug testing, pre-employment drug testing or drug testing after an accident, the bad news is that the current laws do nothing to protect MMJ users in this respect. (Health and Safety Code 11362.45. Section 11362.1)

  • Hector Merida

    Thank you for the great information. My MMJ card expires April. Would it be better to renew now instead of 2018?

    • Debbie Tharp

      I think a lot of people are getting the impression that they have to get a new card on the first because the state is enacting new restrictions for the state and county medical ID cards. However, to my knowledge, not all counties have set up a process for complying with the new regulations, so don’t feel bad if you’re behind on the implementation because they are too 🙂 Remember, your doctor’s recommendation still provides the basic protections of Prop 215, so you shouldn’t have to fear legal harassment as a patient, but you WILL need a compliant MMID card to avoid the heinous taxes. At the end of the day, it’s your county that will have the best answers to this question. Tricia Cleppe wrote this article that has the MMID contact for each county. Thanks for your great question!

  • Melissa harrison

    Does the right to have a gun change when having a mmj card?

  • Daniel James

    I’m not a full time resident of California but I do spend 2-3 months a year there. Since I wasn’t a full time resident all my purchases had to be deliveries. My Medical Marijuana Recommendation just expired. I was thinking that since recreational use was going to be legal I wouldn’t need to renew it.

    After reading your newsletter I have lots of questions suck as can I walk in to a storefront and make a purchase or am I still going to be limited to deliveries? If I renew my recommendation will I need or even be able to get the ID Card?

    Last question for now should I just vacation in Colorado or Oregon?

  • Jade Vibar

    So if I renew my rec, do you have to also re-new your id card, or can I still go to a dispensary or delivery service with just a rec now that it’s been legalized? From my understanding of the article, the rec also exempts you from paying the up to 45% tax, is that correct?

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