California & Colorado's Importance to Legal Cannabis

By: Aaron Diamond

California and Colorado are - and have been - crucial strongholds in the fight for marijuana legalization. As the pioneering states to embrace Cannabis for medical and recreational use respectively, it is important to know and compare the different legislations.

Adult Use in California Pending

While state taxes and farming regulations are similar for both medical programs, the greatest disparity is between the states’ laws on recreational use. In Colorado, it is legal for any adult over the age of 21 to purchase and carry up to one ounce of marijuana at a time. Adult residents are also allowed to grow up to six plants and harvest the flower from their crops. While “Prop 64” to legalize marijuana for adult use is on the ballot for November this year, California currently requires that a patient a medical recommendation from a doctor to purchase or posess any amount of cannabis.

Public Consumption - Still Under Consideration

Amendment 64 includes regulations for cultivation, production and retail business. The main limitation in Colorado marijuana is public consumption. In 2013, Robert Corry lit a marijuana cigarette in Coors Field during a Rockies Baseball game. Being the friendly cannabis advocate he is, Corry went as far to pass the joint around the stadium before being reprimanded by authorities. Corry was not arrested, but he was ticketed, the same way someone drinking in public would be.

As one of the first states to implement Adult Use laws, Colorado is under pressure to succeed and show other states that cannabis can be regulated and consumed responsibly. While the state is currently considering implementing social consumption measures, it remains strict on public consumption infractions.


Colorado Department Of Revenue's Sales Figures for 2015 & 2016 to date.


Driving Under Influence of Drugs

Whether you are a medical patient or recreational user, driving under the influence remains illegal. Anyone found to be driving with over 5 nanograms of  THC in their blood can be considered over the legal limit and a jury can convict you, however the defendant can attempt to prove they were not “intoxicated” while being pulled over.

In California, a “DUID” is more subjective. If a police officer pulls you over and suspects marijuana use while driving, they are instructed to call a “drug recognition evaluator”, who then uses physical signs like dry mouth or a noticeably slow short-term memory to indicate whether the driver is under the influence of Marijuana.

What Will California Do?

If Prop 64 passes in November, the proposed tax is 15% on sales, which mirrors Colorado’s Marijuana tax that made the state $135 million in 2015. While California was the first state in the US to embrace medical marijuana twenty years ago, Colorado has more a robust regulatory system and is thus the tourist destination of many Marijuana-friendly Americans.

This November is a pivotal month for the future of the cannabis industry in America. In the upcoming weeks, nine states have the opportunity to change their cannabis laws, and California look likely to join Colorado as one of the first states to legalize adult use. Should the trend continue, and a majority of states legalize adult marijuana use, the federal government will most likely have to make the move to full legalization on a national scale.