Now that California has opened up to recreational sales and legal use of cannabis, many may be left wondering – what does this mean? What exactly does legalized cannabis mean? Below is a basic guideline to help you navigate the complicated arena between medical cannabis and recreational or adult-use cannabis.

Who Can Buy Cannabis?

The age and legal requirement for people that want to buy cannabis is different depending on whether it is for medical use or adult-use.

Medical Use Cannabis
  • Persons 18 years and older in possession of either a VALID county issued MMIC or valid physician rec
  • Be a primary caregiver of a person possessing either rec – section 11362.7(d) or 11362.5(e)
Legal Use of Recreational Cannabis
  • Persons 21 or older can buy cannabis from a licensed dispensary or delivery service

Benefits to Medical Rec

Now that recreational cannabis is legal to buy in California some may want to toss out their medical rec and save on the cost of renewing their current medical rec. NOT SO FAST! If you have a county issued medical rec you do not have to pay sales and use taxes on medical cannabis products – other taxes may apply, but you’d be saving at least 7.75% from sales tax.

So What Exactly is Legal & What is NOT: Adult-Use Cannabis?

The list for legal use and illegal use may be extensive, but we have highlighted some of the guidelines you can expect:

Legal Use

  • Persons 21 and older can buy cannabis products
  • Persons 21 and older can grow and cultivate up to six (6) cannabis plants for personal use provided that they be locked up and out of public view
  • Consuming cannabis on private property is allowed


  • Cannot consume in public or within 1,000 feet of a school, rec center, or youth center
  • Cannot consume while you drive or operate a vehicle or boat
  • Cannot have an open container in your vehicle
  • Cannot consume on federal lands such as national parks (still federally illegal)
  • Cannot transport across state lines even if traveling to another state that has legalized cannabis

For a more comprehensive list of what is legal, check out the California Department of Public Health website.

Final Note – Jobs & Cannabis Consumption

Remember, even though the recreational use of cannabis is now legal use of cannabis, employers can still prohibit its use by their employees. This is still true if you are a medical cannabis user in many states – know the law and your rights under ADA in your state and locally. An informed decision to consume cannabis is always recommended.