It will still take a few weeks for dispensaries to get licensed, but the sale of recreational marijuana is now legal. And Los Angeles is expected be one of the hottest markets for picking up pot.
But don’t expect the streets of Hollywood to transform into Amsterdam’s red light district. LA’s local ordinances will not be nearly as open and permissive as you might think. We asked cannabis lawyer Hilary Bricken to break down the Do’s and Don’ts of legal weed.
Here’s where you can — and cannot — consume.
Public spaces: NO
You will not be allowed to consume “in public, or in view of the public.”
Hotel rooms: NO
The rule of thumb is that anywhere cigarettes are banned, expect pot to be banned too.
Your car: NO
You can drive with marijuana products in your car as long as they’re unopened and not being consumed by you or a passenger, much like the state’s “open container” law for alcohol.
Think of it this way: you’ll be ordering takeout rather than dining in.
Bars, cafes and lounges: YES AND NO
State law does allow for on-site consumption from designated lounges, but Los Angeles and nearly every other city in California has decided not to license businesses that do this. There’s one exception: West Hollywood, which is drafting rules to allow pot cafes.
At home: YES AND NO
Your best bet for consumption is in the comfort of your own home. But if you’re a renter and your landlord forbids smoking, forget it. If you’re a homeowner and your HOA forbids it, better hide it.
Special events: YES AND NO
So far, the state is only allowing special event permits for “agricultural associations” (i.e. marijuana farmers and growing operations). What about gardening clubs? No luck so far.
Private parties: NO
Obviously your casual “BYOG” dinner party (Bring Your Own Green) will not really be policed. But it’s worth noting that any well-organized or semi-official pot gathering is technically not legal.
So what if you break any of these rules?
You get a ticket. This is key to all of the rules. Even if you’re caught smoking in public, the result is a fine. “People are already lighting up on the streets of LA — and have been lighting up on the streets of LA — with very little clarity as to what the consequences would be, but now we know for sure,” says pot lawyer Hilary Bricken. “It will no longer be a criminal activity. It will be the equivalent of a parking ticket.”
What questions do you have about recreational marijuana?
(Photo: Saul Gonzalez)