Recreational marijuana has been legal in California for two months, and although individuals are allowed to grow up to six plants or possess an ounce of weed, it is not yet legal for businesses to sell recreational pot. Prop. 64, which passed on November 8th, postponed the start date for legal marijuana sales until January 1st of next year, giving the state time to establish a licensing system. Selling marijuana without a license is still illegal, although the crime has been downgraded from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Some medical marijuana dispensaries have jumped on the opportunity and promoted “Prop. 64-friendly” sales of marijuana to anyone who can prove they are over 21. Some dispensaries simply require customers to sign a form stating “under penalty of perjury” that they are legitimate medical marijuana patients.
“I think that they’ve gotten more emboldened,” James Wolak, captain of the Narcotics Bureau for the LA County Sheriff’s Department, said of the dispensaries. “People feel like now that it’s legal, anything goes. And that’s just not the case.”
“Dispensaries have always been operating in a legal gray area, so they are probably comfortable taking a risk,” said David Pullman, a Bay Area criminal defense attorney. The legality of selling marijuana may become even more risky if Jeff Sessions, a firm opponent of marijuana, is confirmed as US Attorney General.
“With the new Trump Administration coming in with Jeff Sessions, my feeling is that marijuana is going to be under greater scrutiny,” said medical dispensary owner Aaron Herzberg. “California is not in compliance and is absolutely at risk of being raided.”