Are you preparing to grow a cannabis garden in California and are unsure of the rules? Here, we break down all the need-to-know facts for growing marijuana in 2023 and beyond. From the number of plants allowed to requirements for expanding your at-home space into a business, here’s our guide to knowing the law. Legalization is still a pretty new concept, even in California, so we've included all the information you need to get started. From medicinal crops to recreational use, read on to learn more.
Table of Content to Growing Cannabis in California
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- California weed growing laws
- Is it legal to grow marijuana in California (outdoors)?
- Do you need a marijuana license?
- How many cannabis plants can you grow in California?
- How much weed can you grow in California?
- California medical weed
- Is it legal to grow (medical) marijuana in California?
- Do I need a license or medical card to grow?
- How to get weed in California without a medical card?
- Growing Weed in California? Buy Seeds from Weedseedsexpress
California has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to marijuana laws. As the first US state to legalize medical cannabis, California also was among the first to decriminalize and then legalize recreational cannabis. The industry is one of the strongest in the country and is a big market to tap for both individual consumers and the business-savvy. Still, there are some legal loopholes and things you need to know in this liberal state.
The long road to legalization began in 1975 when the Moscone Act was passed. This effectively decriminalized possession of 28.5 grams or less. Before that, cannabis had a tumultuous history in California. It was criminalized and punishable by hefty fines and prison time from 1907. During the cannabis heyday of the 1960s, illicit growing flourished in areas like Humboldt County, which revolutionized growing techniques. Today, Humboldt County is the center of the now legal cannabis cultivation industry. Numerous bills have been proposed and revised before Proposition 64 entered the scene in 2016. Proposition 19 came close in 2010 but was ultimately rejected by a slim 7% of the vote. California has come so far in legal terms that an appellation of origin program is likely in the future!
Yes – sort of. On November 8, 2016, Proposition 64 was passed into law by a vote of 57 to 43. Also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, this fully legalized the use, sale, and cultivation of cannabis across California for all adults over 21 years. As such, it’s completely legal to grow cannabis in California (as is your right), but not necessarily outdoors.
If you’re setting up a little cupboard garden, nursing a balcony pot, or operating a tent set-up, you are probably good to go. However, while it’s completely legal to grow weed, you can’t trespass on private property and must confine your operation to your own home.
The problems arise when you’re growing outdoors in select areas. Individual cities in California have the right to enforce their own outdoor growing rules, and many of them have. While Proposition 64 prohibits local governments from re-criminalizing marijuana, it allows them to implement bans on outdoor activities. Sacramento, for instance, has completely banned the outdoor cultivation of marijuana. If you’re based in a densely populated Californian city with similar laws, you should keep your growing space indoors. Other cities like Los Angeles also have their own laws. For instance, no outdoor cultivation is allowed within 600 feet of a park, school, library, or daycare/youth center.
In general, California’s official rules only state that your growing space should not be visible from a public place. So, whether or not your outdoor garden qualifies depends on your situation and local city rules. Rules are often less stringent in more rural areas, allowing for outdoor gardens to exist, so long as they are still not visible to others. It’s therefore important not to plant in open sight of neighbors, especially if they do not want to smell or look at marijuana. If you’re living in an apartment or rental home, you may be subject to even more restrictions. If in doubt, always keep your growing space personal and limited to stay on the right side of the law.
Not under general Californian law, but some cities, districts, and counties operate their own licensing restrictions. Right now, 1 in 7 cities across California require growers to obtain permits in order to cultivate cannabis for personal use. This process can include paying large permit fees and submitting background checks or providing at-home inspections. What's more, if you are a budding entrepreneur beginning your first steps in the weed growing industry, you must get a cultivation license. Otherwise, the legal repercussions here can be very serious indeed. In general, however, your home-grow situation should be legal for up to 6 personal plants without the need for registering with a local authority or applying for a license.
Right now, households can grow up to 6 cannabis plants legally. These rules relate to the entire household, not the number of occupants. A household with 6 residents can still only grow up to 6 plants under the law. This is detailed in Proposition 64, the voter initiative that became law in 2016. Larger operations risk being fined up to $500 and incurring jail time of up to 6 months. As such, it’s best to stick to the law and keep your growing space at 6 plants or less. While the 6 plant limit may seem unfair, it’s actually pretty sensible. Cannabis requires water, which needs to be conserved across California. With proper planning, you can work efficiently within the 6 plant restrictions, with enough to cook or smoke with.
Although you are restricted to 6 cannabis plants, there are few restrictions on plant or bud size, especially if you're growing indoors. Some areas, like Los Angeles, limit your outdoor plants to sizes of up to six feet tall. There are no such restrictions indoors. If you’d like larger yields, opt for super-sized strains while staying within the law. After this, you’re only really limited when it comes to possession laws. That’s why you should always invest in good quality scales. Current laws state that you can carry up to 28.5 grams with you at any time (depending on the place). Anything over that is a criminal offense. Don’t be caught out; weigh and bag your weed if you’re intent on taking it somewhere.
In 1996, California became the first US state to legalize medical cannabis. This law was groundbreaking and spearheaded other laws across the country. Known as the Compassionate Use Act, it allows patients and caregivers to cultivate cannabis for their own use. Unlike recreational cannabis, it can be legally recommended to patients under 21 years of age. You still cannot technically be “prescribed” marijuana, as it is a Schedule I drug under federal law. Instead, you are “recommended” marijuana, which you can then purchase from a supplier. If you’re interested in growing your own medical marijuana, or you want to keep up with the law, here’s our guide for therapeutic use.
Yes. It’s completely legal for patients and their caregivers to grow medical marijuana in California. However, the laws have changed since marijuana was legalized recreationally. Previously, there were few limitations on medical home-growers. Patients who were approved medical marijuana by their doctor(s) could grow as much as they needed under their doctor’s recommendation. Now, you are subject to similar laws as recreational users. You can grow up to 6 mature plants and must abide by local growing laws. That means no outdoor growing in certain cities and keeping your garden secure and away from public view. In some cases, you may grow more than 6 plants so long as your doctor has recommended a higher dose, which is unlikely.
No. With the legalization of recreational marijuana, you no longer need any form of license to grow cannabis. Prior to 2016, medicinal users often kept their cards at hand to avoid arrest. If the police investigated your medical home-grow setup, you could just show your card to confirm your exemption. You no longer require this, as anyone can grow up to 6 cannabis plants in California, regardless of their condition. You can still get a medicinal marijuana card with a doctor’s recommendation. These are entirely voluntary, but it has some perks. For one, your cannabis purchases are exempt from sales tax. Cards are also required if your condition allows you to carry more than the legal 28.5 grams.
You no longer need a medical card to purchase marijuana in California, but it’s still worth it in some regards. Medical card-holders can purchase stronger potency weed at younger ages and are allowed to possess more. Recreational retailers have professionals to advise on what sort of weed you may enjoy, but they do not have the same training as medical suppliers. Even in California where cannabis is legal, there is still an advantage to using medical retailers and your MMJ card. Still, it’s not completely necessary if your dosage is low, and many medical consumers are bypassing the license process altogether.
To get weed without a medical card, simply head over to a dispensary and pick out a strain. Or, better yet, grow your own seeds at home.
As a medicinal user, your needs are a lot different from recreational users. As weed becomes more mainstream, medicinal strains tend to become harder to get. This is just related to supply and demand. As such, it makes a lot of sense to grow your favorite therapeutic strains at home. These include higher CBD options or even more potent THC strains to manage long-lasting pain. When you’re buying weed in California without a medical card, you’re only restricted by the amount you can purchase and your age. You must be 21 years old or over to buy and use weed in the state.
There have been some downsides to legalization for medicinal consumers. Following recreational legalization, the existing medical growing industry had to re-register and comply with new regulations and apply for costly permits. As a result, more than half of the non-profit medical dispensaries in California closed due to the appearance of commercial enterprises. While cannabis is now more accessible than ever before, it is often subject to market trends.
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