California Cannabis Laws & Regulations for 2023

A.W. Naves
June 22, 2023

Whether you're a resident, visitor, potential entrepreneur, or simply curious about cannabis regulations in California, our comprehensive guide has you covered. Find answers to frequent questions about the legal landscape of cannabis in the Golden State with ease.

What is the minimum age for consuming cannabis in California?

The California Bureau of Cannabis Control (CBCC) stipulates that you must be at least 21 years old to consume cannabis. However, those who are 18 or older can purchase cannabis for medicinal use if they have a doctor’s recommendation. These age requirements can vary across different municipalities, which are authorized to establish their own regulations. You should confirm the specific laws applicable in your city or county by checking your official website.

Where can I buy cannabis and what is the maximum amount I can purchase?

Cannabis can be purchased from licensed retail dispensaries, delivery services, and micro businesses in the amount of one ounce (28.5 grams) of cannabis flower and up to eight grams of cannabis concentrates per day per CBCC regulations. Additionally, edible cannabis products are limited to 100 milligrams of THC per package. Dispensaries are required to ensure the following:

  • All products are rigorously tested.
  • The amount of THC and CBD shown on the label is accurate.
  • No sales are made to minors.

Can I order cannabis online?

One unique aspect of California's cannabis laws is that they allow for the delivery of cannabis products directly to consumers even if there is no physical storefront for the licensed dispensary, including in areas where local bans on retail storefronts exist. This means you can purchase online and have the product delivered to you, but you’ll need to receive the product personally with your ID handy.

Someone is purchasing cannabis online in California.

What are the applicable taxes for cannabis?

Cannabis in California is subject to state and local taxes per the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) code. This includes sales tax and an excise tax based on the average market price of the cannabis product. Additionally, some cities and counties impose their own taxes on cannabis businesses.

Where can I smoke cannabis in California?

CBCC regulations permit cannabis consumption in private residences, including outside if not visible to the public. You can also consume cannabis at businesses licensed for that purpose. Otherwise, smoking or vaping cannabis in public places is prohibited.

You cannot consume cannabis on federal land, such as in national parks. There may also be rules or regulations that rented accommodations have regarding cannabis. Additionally, smoking or vaping cannabis is not allowed within 1,000 feet of the following locations:

  • Schools
  • Daycare centers
  • Youth centers (when children are present)

Can I grow cannabis at home for personal use?

Yes, adults aged 21 and older can cultivate cannabis for personal use in California. Each household can grow up to six plants for personal consumption. If cannabis is turned into a product rather than using the flower, you are not permitted to use solvents that are considered volatile, such as propane or butane. Also, some municipalities have more specific rules for growing cannabis at home. You may be required to obtain a permit or be limited to growing indoors.

A cannabis plant is growing inside a California home.

Can I drive while under the influence of cannabis?

No. If the police have reason to believe you are under the influence of cannabis while driving, they can pull you over and conduct a sobriety test. Failure to pass this test can result in arrest for driving under the influence.

It is also illegal to have an open container of cannabis within reach of any occupant while driving or riding in a motor vehicle, including boats. Any cannabis in your possession must be in a sealed package or located out of reach, such as in the trunk.

Can I take cannabis purchased in California to another state?

No, it is illegal to transport cannabis across state lines, even between two states where cannabis is legal. This is because cannabis is still illegal under federal law and the states may have different regulations.

Can I give cannabis as a gift?

Under California's adult-use cannabis laws, the gifting of cannabis to individuals aged 21 and older is allowed. However, the law prohibits selling or exchanging cannabis without a license. So, you can gift cannabis to someone, but you cannot receive compensation for it in any form.

Can I get my California cannabis conviction expunged?

Yes, under Proposition 64, individuals with prior cannabis convictions for crimes that are no longer illegal or have been reduced can apply to have their records expunged or resentenced. The process for expungement or resentencing varies by county. You can consult with an attorney or legal aid organization to understand your area's specific procedures.

What are the packaging and label requirements for cannabis in CA?

Cannabis products in California must adhere to specific packaging and labeling requirements regulated by the California Department of Public Health. Packaging must be child-resistant and labels must include warnings, cannabinoid content, and other required information. Additionally, labels must display the unique identifier for the product in the state's track and trace system.

A bag of cannabis flower from California.

What is the California Cannabis Track and Trace system?

California has implemented a track and trace system that enables regulatory agencies to monitor and track the movement of cannabis products from seed to sale via the CCP site. The California Cannabis Track and Trace system helps ensure accountability, traceability, and compliance with the state's regulations and standards.

What testing do cannabis products require before sale in CA?

Cannabis products in California must undergo laboratory testing for potency, contaminants, and other factors. These testing requirements aim to ensure consumer safety and the quality of cannabis products. Products that do not meet the testing requirements cannot be sold to consumers. Testing is completed to measure the following:

  • Cannabinoids and terpenes
  • Microbial impurities
  • Heavy metals
  • Moisture content and water activity
  • Mycotoxins
  • Residual solvents and processing chemicals
  • Residual pesticides
  • Foreign matter

What cannabis licenses are available and how much do they cost?

The Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) requires a license for all commercial cannabis activities. The costs for each will depend on the size and scope of the operation. The DCC provides licenses for the following:

  • Cultivation - Growing cannabis
  • Distribution - Transporting cannabis
  • Manufacturing - Making cannabis products
  • Testing Labs - Testing cannabis and cannabis products
  • Retail – Dispensaries selling cannabis to consumers
  • Event Organizers – Holding events where cannabis will be sold

Are there location restrictions for establishing a dispensary?

Local jurisdictions have the authority to regulate the location and operation of cannabis businesses within their boundaries. Dispensaries must comply with zoning laws and may face additional restrictions, such as distance requirements from schools or parks.

Should I secure my cannabis property before applying for a license?

Yes, California has a dual licensing system that requires you to obtain local authorizations before you can apply for state licensure. You will need to demonstrate control or ownership of a property that meets local zoning and operational requirements before you can take the next step toward becoming a licensed dispensary.

Final Thoughts on 2023 California Cannabis Laws

Be sure to understand all of the aspects of opening a dispensary before applying for licensure, including everything you need to know about the labor laws that apply to the staff you hire. You might also consider taking the first step towards revolutionizing your staff management with KayaPush to streamline your processes, improve productivity, and foster a more engaged workforce.

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June 2023


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