1 December, 2019

Status: Legal


1907: Cannabis criminalised
1996: Medical use legalised
2009: Full legalisation
2010: Decriminalisation

Policy Framework:

  • Must be 21-years-of-age or older to purchase, possess or consume cannabis;
  • Driving under the influence of cannabis is prohibited;
  • It is prohibited to consume cannabis in any form in public spaces;
  • Illegal to consume cannabis in areas where smoking tobacco is prohibited;
  • 15% excise tax on all cannabis purchasers;
  • Possession of over an ounce of cannabis is a misdemeanour punishable by up to six months in prison and fines of up to $US500;
  • Distribution or sale of cannabis without a license is a misdemeanour punishable by six months and a fine of $US500;
  • Cultivation of more than six plants is a misdemeanour punishable by up to six months in prison and fines of up to $US500;
  • From January 1, 2019, cannabis possession charges were expunged from criminal records;
  • Cannabis suppliers must obtain a license before they are permitted to engage in cannabis-related commercial activity;
  • Employees of any commercial cannabis business must be 21-years-of-age or older to handle cannabis goods;
  • Cultivation tax of up to $US10 per ounce.

Sources: Norml, California Cannabis Portal


  • Legal market underperforms and does not meet estimates;
  • The black market continues to flourish;
  • The state of California raised $US317 million in tax revenue from marijuana products for the 2018/19 year;
  • In 2018, the total market value of marijuana sales in California was worth $US2.5 billion;
  • Regulatory compliance costs and taxes make legal cannabis too expensive to be competitive with the black market price;
  • From 2005 to 2011, the percent of adults who reported using marijuana in the past year remained relatively unchanged (8.2% and 8.5%, respectively). However, in 2015 use increased to 11.6%;
  • Past-year cannabis use disorder in Californians aged 12-years-old or above increased between 2005 and 2017 (from 1.9% to 2.0%).



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