It’s legal to possess and use cannabis in California. The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (Prop 64), was approved in 2016, and permits individuals over the age of 21 to possess, privately use, share and give away up to one ounce (29 grams) of cannabis. They’re also allowed to cultivate up to six plants in a private residence.
City and county governments have the right to restrict or even ban cannabis businesses in their area, regardless of California’s overall stance on the matter.
Can you possess and use cannabis in California?
If you are travelling to California (or currently live there), you may be interested to know the following:
All harvested cannabis (and plants) must be kept within the grower’s private residence, or in the boundaries of their property (e.g. a garden). They must be in a locked space, and must not be visible to the public. If these terms are violated, the individual may be given a $250 fine.
Like the rest of the USA, California’s cannabis market suffered after the ‘reefer madness’ campaign, which turned public opinion heavily against the drug. In 1907, the state passed the Poison and Pharmacy Act, which banned the sale of many substances; six years after, cannabis was added to the list. In fact, California was actually one of the first states to ban cannabis use.
Laws pertaining to sales of marijuana seeds or associated products vary a great deal in the U.S. and beyond, in part because there is a general lack of understanding on how they should be defined. Some consider seed sales ancillary to the cannabis market, but the reality is because these are part of the cannabis plant (or rather, its origins) these too are controlled.
Internationally, many countries don’t restrict or regulate cannabis seed sales, as the seeds have a myriad of benign uses. These can include production of clothing material, oils and food for animals/fishing bait.
Genetic Seed Variations Can Be Protected Intellectual Property
Those selling cannabis seeds in California, either in-store or online, need to be certain procedures are in place to prevent sales to restricted buyers (mostly minors).
Los Angeles marijuana dispensaries routinely sell pot seeds over-the-counter, and cost is roughly $12 for a pack of 10, though higher-end strains can run several hundred dollars. Dispensary options are limited compared to what one might find online at a California cannabis seed bank.
Buying, selling or transporting those seeds out-of-state though is where things can get dicey.
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a case in point. Last Thursday, he announced plans to roll back Obama-era regulations that led states to legalize marijuana in the first place. Additionally, the Drug Enforcement Agency oversees hemp production and requires growers to go through a rigorous process to cultivate the crop. Only state agencies and academic institutions growing hemp for research purposes aren’t required to get permits to grow hemp, but even they’ve run into roadblocks put up by the DEA. In 2014, the agency intercepted a 250-pound shipment of hemp seed that the University of Kentucky ordered for research purposes.
The fact that nearly all hemp in the US is imported has economic as well as environmental ramifications. The $600 million US hemp industry is growing, with hemp textiles and beauty products driving demand. In addition to its clothing and industrial uses, hemp can be found in lotions, oils, and hair dressings. The Body Shop and Shea Moisture both use hemp in their goods. According to the Hemp Industries Association, textiles make up 17 percent of hemp imports, and beauty products make up 26 percent. By 2020, the Hemp Business Journal predicts that the hemp industry will grow to $2.1 billion. And even a federal government entity, the Congressional Research Service, described hemp as “an economically viable alternative crop for some US growers.”
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The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 led to the criminalization of cannabis, and the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 classified the plant as a Schedule I drug, along with substances like heroin, LSD, and peyote. But the United States, as Patagonia hinted, has a long history of hemp production. In the 18th century, President George Washington grew hemp on each of his five farms for clothing, rope, sail canvas, and to repair fishing nets, according to his estate. He seriously pondered whether he could make it a cash crop as well.
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Currently China is the largest global supplier of imported hemp, while Canada has that distinction in North America. Both countries will provide stiff competition if California sets out to produce industrial hemp. In many ways, though, the Golden State is uniquely suited to be a hemp producer. Five other states — Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Colorado, and Alaska — have legalized recreational marijuana, but California is the most populous state to do so and has the sixth-largest world economy. It specifically made provisions in Prop. 64 about hemp cultivation and has a climate conducive to hemp growing. There, the eco-friendly plant flourishes, requiring just a third of the water that cotton does during cultivation, and less land, too. Plus, Patagonia praises hemp because it doesn’t require pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or GMO seeds to produce. Hemp can even stop erosion and make soil healthier, the retailer notes.