Six plants. That’s the number of marijuana plants you can legally grow under California’s new Adult Use of Marijuana Act (Prop 64), passed by the voters in November 2016.
Why six? Nobody really knows. It’s not like anybody took a survey. “Dude, how many plants should you be allowed to grow?” “Like six, man. If I only had five, I’d probably run out, and if I had seven, then people would be coming around asking me for free weed. So six, man. Yeah, six is perfect.”
Maybe they picked six because that’s the number of strings on a guitar, or the number of legs on a butterfly. Or maybe somebody just threw a dart and hit the number six.
The thing is, laws should be rationale. They should make sense. The average citizen should be able to able to figure out what’s legal and what isn’t. If you start off a statutory scheme by picking a number out of hat, you’re likely to confuse people.
And the marijuana laws in California are going to confuse a lot of people. The new law is really long. My copy runs 62 pages. And a lot of the law hasn’t even been written yet. The State of California is going to be implementing new regulations for at least the next year; cities and counties will also be weighing in with their own regulations, permit fees and taxes. On top of that, many California jurisdictions have laws on the books for medical cannabis, but a lot of those laws will have to be rewritten in light of Prop 64.
On top of all that, federal law completely prohibits the possession of any amount of marijuana. No “six plants” for Californians if the feds start enforcing that law. During the Obama administration, the Department of Justice made marijuana enforcement a low priority. Except for a few high profile prosecutions, Californians did not see a lot of federal marijuana prosecutions under the Obama presidency. We’re getting a new president in 2017, however, and nobody knows what he’s going to do.
In other words, the legal landscape is a mess. People who want to own and operate a legal marijuana business in California don’t know where they stand, much less which way to jump.
This blog addresses developments in California marijuana law. I doubt that it is going to clear things up much. There is just too much uncertainty built into the system. The issues are going to have to be worked out one by one, case by case, for the next several years. One thing is clear, though. California voters have overwhelmingly voted for legalized marijuana. Legalized marijuana has arrived. Some people are going to seize the moment and prosper. Problems built into the law will put some stumbling blocks in the way of success, but diligent, creative people will find ways around those stumbling blocks.
Finally, let me point out that this is not a marketing blog for some law firm. That’s what most legal blogs are, but not this one. Please don’t ask me to be your lawyer. I won’t do it. And please don’t treat my blog posts like they are actual legal opinions. They aren’t. Don’t rely on them.
If you are trying to run a legal marijuana business in California, you are going need legal help. Face up to it, and hire yourself a lawyer. Don’t try to work through this body of law on your own if you don’t have legal training. Even very good lawyers are going to have a lot of trouble with this confusing and contradictory body of law.