How Will Legalized Marijuana Affect You and Your Business?

marijuana-leafOn November 8, 2016 California voters passed Proposition 64, “The Adult Use of Marijuana Act,” which legalized the recreational use and possession of marijuana for adults 21 and over in the state of California.  California is now the fifth state to legalize recreational marijuana, after being the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996.

As of November 9, 2016, adults 21 and over can now legally use and possess up to an ounce of marijuana buds, and 8 grams of concentrated marijuana.  However, such use must be done privately, as it is still illegal to smoke in public places, or on the grounds of a school, day care center, or youth care center while children are present.  Furthermore, it is still illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana or any other drug.

It is unlikely that residents will be able to walk into a dispensary to purchase marijuana without a medical card until January 1, 2018, the deadline for the state to set up a licensing system for dispensaries.

In the meantime, adults are permitted to grow up to six marijuana plants in their private home, inside or outside, as long as the plants are in an enclosed and secured space.  Residents can grow more than one ounce at a marijuana-illustrationtime, but any amount in excess of the statewide limits must remain in the home.  Growers are free however, to give away any excess marijuana they cultivate, as long as it is free of charge.

For Previously Convicted Individuals

Proposition 64 will also affect those with prior marijuana convictions, as it authorizes re-sentencing and deconstruction of records for old convictions that would now  be legal under the new law.

What does this new law mean for California employers?

For now at least, nothing changes.  Employers still have the right to maintain a drug-free workplace, and drug test prospective or current employees in keeping with the current law and their policies. This means that an employee can still be fired for testing positive for marijuana, even if their last use was off-work hours or because of a medical disability. However, employers should be cautious, as the latter could lead to disability discrimination claims.  This issues can be address in an Employee Handbook, which should be revised annually to reflect changes in California law.

Effective January 1, 2018, a 15 percent excise tax is imposed upon purchasers of all marijuana and marijuana products. Additionally, a tax on cultivators of marijuana is imposed as follows:

  • $9.25 per dry-weight ounce of marijuana flowers
  • $2.75 per dry-weight ounce of marijuana leaves

The new law is expected to bring in at least $1 billion in additional revenue to California annually, which will be deposited into a new California Marijuana Tax Fund, and allocated to drug research, treatment programs, and law enforcement.


  • JGrady Firm-Logo-2016The Grady Firm, P.C. attorneys specialize in helping businesses grow and succeed through employment, business, and immigration law advising for clients in California.  For California employers, they help perform personnel audits, train employers on employment law compliance, provide on-demand legal analysis for hiring and firing questions, provide leadership and sexual harassment training in English and Spanish, and answer any questions about changes in federal and state law.

To learn more about ensuring your business is compliant with state and local laws, schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation with The Grady Firm’s attorneys; call +1 (323) 450-9010; or fill out a Contact Request Form.

*This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. This article does not make any guarantees as to the outcome of a particular matter, as each matter has its own set of circumstances and must be evaluated individually by a licensed attorney.

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