California has recreational pot now. But where can I legally smoke it?

California has recreational pot now. But where can I legally smoke it?

In 1914, the poet Robert Frost wrote “Good fences make good neighbors.” Depending on your neighbors, less interaction is often better.


For decades, one of the most common gripes between neighbors has been secondhand smoke. There is no fence high enough to contain it. When the Surgeon General warned that secondhand smoke from cigarettes could be carcinogenic, complaints shot through the roof.


Cigarette smoking has drastically declined over the last decade. Meanswhile, the popularity of cannabis has steadily increased.


There’s no evidence cannabis smoke is carcinogenic. Secondhand weed smoke is not considered a public health risk.


Some neighbors still have a problem with it. So it’s important to know your rights as a cannabis smoker.


Unfortunately, since cannabis is still federally illegal, every state that has some form of cannabis legalization has done it their own way. Plus, many states allow individual counties and cities to pass their own cannabis-related ordinances, making for a patchwork of laws. You need to be aware of the laws for where you live.


To understand your local and state regulations, you’ll need to do your own research.


For this article, we are focusing on California. Proposition 64, which legalized the recreational use of cannabis for adults, came with its own regulations.


So what does our state’s new cannabis law say about where you can — and cannot — spark up?


For now, there is nowhere legal to smoke weed in public.


One exception is if you’re at a festival, or some other gathering, which has gone through all of the state’s red tape to acquire a permit required for a public consumption cannabis event.


Otherwise, legally-speaking, you can only smoke pot in the privacy of your own home.


“What about my backyard?”

Katherine McBroom, a partner at LA-based law firm Kaedian, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that, “Smoking on private property, including in the backyard, is legal under state law — this will apply to marijuana as well.”

But, she warns, “Problems can arise with rental properties.”


“What if I am renting?”

There is no doubt that you have more rights as a weed smoking homeowner than you do as a weed smoking renter in California. Let’s look a little closer.

Under Prop64, landlords and property owners retain their right to totally ban all smoking in their buildings or on their property. That’s right, you can’t smoke in public & you can’t smoke in your own pad… welcome to legalization!


As with most problems, it starts with a complaint.

So if you live in tight quarters – like an apartment building, condos, or other multifamily housing – it will just take one loudmouth neighbor to cause those problems and far too often the landlord will just issue a blanket ban on all smoking hoping to keep the peace.


If you are caught toking up after such a ban, you might not be liable under state law but you will be in breach of your rental or lease agreement and could find yourself packing up all your shit just because you like to pack an occasional bowl.


Many “experts” suggest resorting to vape pens or edibles to “keep the peace” but, with all neighborly respect, fuck that!


Dog shit smells but we aren’t banning dogs, are we?

The mouthwatering aroma of a perfectly simmering Cardiff Crack tri-tip roast on the grill could be offensive to a vegan but somehow the butcher blocks keep fuckin’ choppin’ meat!


Unfortunately, the law might not agree with those analogies if your landlord decides to flex his or her rights under the flawed Prop 64. Hopefully, as legal cannabis use becomes more mainstream, tenants will be more comfortable talking to potential landlords about their cannabis use and work it all out before they even move in.


Sometimes though the decision could be totally out of the landlord’s hands.


In some northern California cities like Berkeley and San Mateo, as well as down in Pasadena, local ordinances are in place that require all residential multi-unit housing to be 100% smoke free.


“So if I own my place, I’m good?”

Well, not necessarily.


As long as you have neighbors who are not down with cannabis, you’ve got a potential problem.


More and more communities are implementing HOA’s, or home owners associations, which outline hyperlocal rules and guidelines aimed at preserving certain aspects of specific neighborhoods.


Depending on how aggressive your local HOA is, enough “nuisance” complaints to them by your neighbor could lead to fines and general inconvenience for you.


The lesson here is that the “legalization” of cannabis is still far too ambiguous in many cases to the point that just in California alone, the term means vastly different things to different people even if they live on the same street!

If you find yourself stuck in a cannabis dispute with a nosy neighbor, it may be best to try to find a compromise that works for you both before the landlord, HOA, or even a local law enforcement officer is forced into the middle.


But, as legal adult cannabis consumers in California, our defense seems that it should be a strong one – how can the law expressly prohibit public consumption, but one whiny neighbor can strip us of our right to private consumption as well?


This is one of the many dangerous traps lurking in the language of Proposition 64 in California.


Do your research.

Know your rights.

Don’t like them?

Fight for more.

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