Since 1996, when medical marijuana became legal in California, most denizens of the Golden State have had no problem acquiring medicinal bud. Moreover, since January 2018, recreational cannabis has been legal for adults 21 and over, negating the need for a doctor’s note to get high. Even though the legal stigma of purchasing weed is gone, some might not know how to actually go about buying recreational bud, because it’s not quite as available as beer or wine. Fret not! Buying bud in SoCal isn’t difficult, and this short guide will get you started on your way to getting that legal Cali high, even if you’re just visiting.
Some things to know: Any adult, even from out of state, can purchase recreational marijuana in California so long as you are 21 or over with valid ID, even a passport. Although legal statewide, access is still regulated on the local level and many cities ban or severely restrict storefronts. Shops must also close no later than 10PM as well, so don’t expect a legal plug at 1AM. Also, you’ll probably need to pay in cash, as many credit card processors will not do business with cannabis companies and some issuers may disallow you from charging herb on your card.
You might be wondering if you still should get a medical recommendation now that recreational is legal. That’s up to you, the biggest advantage is that you’ll be able to buy larger quantities (over an ounce of flowers, 8 ounces of concentrate) or grow more plants. You can also avoid paying sales and use taxes if you register with the local health department. You’ll still be on the hook for local cannabis and excise taxes however.
How easy it will be to find a shop depends entirely where you are in SoCal, some areas are more cannabis hostile than others. In some cities, black market shops have bloomed in the wake of a rough start of the recreational market. Black market shops operate with total disregard for the state’s regulations, selling cannabis with no chain of custody, that hasn’t been tested for pesticides or potency, and in some cases, counterfeit vape cartridges. There are various websites that can assist you in looking for a nearby store and see their inventory, although don’t expect a handy app, as Apple and Google do not allow cannabis sales apps in their respective marketplaces.
If driving to a dispensary isn’t convenient or you’re simply all about that delivery life, you can order cannabis online and have it delivered, just as you would pizza. As with a storefront, you’ll need a valid ID and probably cash to complete your purchase. Otherwise, ordering cannabis is just a matter of making selections online, provide some information, and wait for delivery. Don’t forget to tip your driver!
Another way to acquire cannabis in California is to be gifted it from another adult 21 or over. It must be a gift however, as exchanging it for money or trade might have you run afoul of the state’s cannabis retail licensing rules. If you’re a visitor to SoCal, your kind friends here may just have some bud waiting for you upon arrival.
Some final things to remember: It’s illegal to drive and toke, or drive while high, as well as consuming in public. Cannabis is still federally a no-no, so don’t possess or consume weed on federal land, including national parks. You’re also not allowed to open cannabis packages in public, so while tempting as it is, keep your legal bud sealed away in that exit bag until you get home. Also keep your goodie bag in the trunk of the car, as recreational cannabis is not allowed in the cab of a vehicle. And one last bummer — even though the herb you smoked at Coachella was legal, that doesn’t protect you from employer drug screening and possible disciplinary action for testing positive, even in California.