California's recent passage of Proposition 64 has effectively decriminalized marijuana at the state level. But that new liberty may start to give recreational users the idea there are more freedoms than actually exist.
Marijuana, like controlled substances such as prescription drugs, remains subject to very specific rules about distribution, sale and possession. If you act too carefree with either, you could find yourself facing criminal charges.
Marijuana and Medications Are Regulated
When it comes to prescription medications and friends, it seems innocent enough to give someone a pain killer when they pull a back muscle or strain their neck. After all, you may have leftover pills or a remaining refill that would go to waste anyway. Maybe they can just cover the pharmacy cost? It's the kind of thing that seems okay between friends, even though you know there are rules against it.
In California, marijuana falls under similar regulations. Even though you may not need a prescription since Proposition 64 passed, you are not free to sell even small amounts to others at the same cost you paid. Like pharmacies, only state licensed businesses can distribute it legally.
Does Money Matter?
Passing prescription medications and marijuana are a lot alike in the eyes of the law. You can legally possess either to some degree. But the average person cannot distribute them.
And, the government's definition of "selling" may not gibe with the way you look at it. Trading, swapping, doing a favor or just giving it away can get you charged with illegal distribution. If you pass prescription drugs or marijuana to a friend, you could be charged, face jail time or be fined. Money does not need to come into play.
How Possession Works
Both marijuana and prescription drugs have specific rules about legal possession. For prescribed medications, you need to have your own prescription. It's not complicated. If you do not, then your possession is not legal. But now that marijuana has been decriminalized, you can carry up to 28.5 grams if you are 21 or older. Yet, you cannot consume it in public, in a car, on a plane and landlords can prohibit possession on their property. As you can see, decriminalization comes with a specific set of possession rules you'll need to be aware of if you're a recreational user.
The decriminalization of marijuana may have relaxed the laws considerable and possibly created a lucrative tax revenue source. However, don't lower your guard because it's being called "recreational." Marijuana and prescription drugs remain regulated controlled substances that can lead to an arrest if you are not careful.