Recreational marijuana is now legal in California

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

Voters in California passed a ballot initiative on Election Day to legalize marijuana for recreational use, ending the prohibition on pot.

Proposition 64 allows adults over the age of 21 to use, possess, and transport up to an ounce of marijuana for non-medical purposes, and grow as many as six plants at home.

The bill also imposes a 15% tax on sales of the drug, generating up to $1 billion in new tax revenue annually, according to the state's nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office.

Related: Legal marijuana sales and dispensaries

8 PHOTOS
Legal marijuana sales, dispensaries around the US, recreational and medical
See Gallery
Legal marijuana sales, dispensaries around the US, recreational and medical
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 07: A man leaves Columbia Care, the first medical marijuana dispensary in New York City on January 7, 2016 in New York City. The law allowing medical marijuana was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2014; the law stipulates that the legal marijuana may not be ingested by smoking it. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Corey Young, a founder of courier service CannaRabbit LLC, picks up a delivery of marijuana from a dispensary as part of a wholesale transfer in Denver, Colorado, U.S., on Friday, March 27, 2015. CannaRabbit and peers are rushing in as regional truckers and nationwide haulers United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp. steer clear of transporting marijuana on concerns over the lack of nationwide clearance of a practice that is still illegal in most states. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 8: Takoma Wellness Center is a family run medical marijuana dispensary in Washington, DC. Employee, David Malpica, sets up the dispensary room before business hours on Sunday, March 8, 2015. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Marijuana sits on a counter after being delivered to a dispensary by the courier service CannaRabbit LLC in Louisville, Colorado, U.S., on Friday, March 27, 2015. CannaRabbit and peers are rushing in as regional truckers and nationwide haulers United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp. steer clear of transporting marijuana on concerns over the lack of nationwide clearance of a practice that is still illegal in most states. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA JULY 05, 2014 --- Shoppers lined up at one of many pot vendors stall at cannabis farmers market organized by California Heritage Market at West Coast Collective, a marijuana dispensary in Boyle Heights. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Vendors and growers prepare their displays for card-carrying medical marijuana patients attending Los Angeles' first-ever cannabis farmer's market at the West Coast Collective medical marijuana dispensary, on the fourth of July, or Independence Day, in Los Angeles, California on July 4, 2014 where organizer's of the 3-day event plan to showcase high quality cannabis from growers and vendors throughout the state. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Containers of the medical marijuana product known as 'Wax' are displayed at Los Angeles' first-ever cannabis farmer's market at the West Coast Collective medical marijuana dispensary, on the fourth of July, or Independence Day, in Los Angeles, California on July 4, 2014 where organizer's of the 3-day event plan to showcase high quality cannabis from growers and vendors throughout the state. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Voters said yes to legal weed in a big way on Tuesday.

The decisive victory comes 20 years after California became the first state to legalize and regulate the medical use of marijuana under Proposition 215, a 1996 voter initiative.

Those in favor of the decision owe a big thanks to billionaire Silicon Valley fixture Sean Parker. The former Facebook president and founder of Napster contributed $8.5 million to the effort, making him the single biggest donor of the initiative, according to The Los Angeles Times.

All said, Proposition 64 raised close to $16 million, about four times the amount spent on a failed effort to legalize recreational weed in California in 2010.

The bill builds on its predecessor's shortcomings by creating clearer standards around the sale and distribution of marijuana and disincentivizing black-market operators from continuing, according to Richard Miadich, a Sacramento attorney and a co-author of Proposition 64.

"If you accept the principle that what we're doing today isn't working [in the war on drugs] and you're looking for an alternative, I feel very comfortable saying this is an alternative — this is more than a viable alternative, this is an outstanding alternative," Miadich told Business Insider on Tuesday night, hours before the final tally was announced.

As the governor of Colorado said at the time his state legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, users shouldn't "break out the Cheetos" just yet. Nonmedical sales are still a ways away. California marijuana consumers will not have a place to buy their bud legally until retailers are issue licenses to sell. The state has until January 1, 2018, to begin that process.

Californians are free to possess and grow marijuana immediately.

Related: Marijuana edibles sold in Colorado, Oregon

2 PHOTOS
Marijuana edibles sold in Colorado and Oregon
See Gallery
Marijuana edibles sold in Colorado and Oregon
Edibles are displayed at Shango Cannabis shop on first day of legal recreational marijuana sales beginning at midnight in Portland, Oregon October 1, 2015. The sale of marijuana for recreational use began in Oregon on October 1, 2015 as it joined Washington state and Colorado in allowing the sale of a drug that remains illegal under U.S. federal law. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Business Insider spoke to voters outside San Francisco's City Hall on Tuesday afternoon, where people expressed overwhelming support for Proposition 64.

"I don't smoke weed or marijuana or nothing like that, but it's better than alcohol," said Jeffrey Chapman, an independent contractor who voted in favor of the bill. "It's for helping people."

"It just seems like a no-brainer to me," said Byron Weiss, assistant stores manager of 826 Valencia, a Bay Area nonprofit that helps underprivileged children build writing skills.

Weiss, a California native, told Business Insider he followed the 2010 ballot initiative more closely than Proposition 64 and was disappointed when it failed to pass. But as the stigma against marijuana dropped, legalization in California was "only a matter of time."

An immigration attorney, who asked to remain anonymous given marijuana's federal status, hopes legalization puts a chokehold on the black market. Her clients come from outside the US and sometimes fall into situations where they become drug mules, she said.

"Bringing [marijuana] more to light, I feel, will hopefully decrease the drug trafficking and illegal markets for it," she said, adding that regulation will make the drug safer for all involved.

There is a catch. Marijuana remains a Schedule 1 drug, which makes it illegal in the eyes of the federal government. But how will marijuana fare under a Trump or Clinton presidency?

Clinton has said that she will support states that are "moving towards" both recreational and medical marijuana legalization, though her campaign hasn't taken an official stance. She also called for moving marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II to open up research on the drug.

Trump, on the other hand, has flip-flopped on the issue throughout his public life. His campaign hasn't yet taken a definitive stance on the issue.

Many industry insiders hope California becomes a "tipping point" toward ending prohibition nationally. Ben Larson is cofounder and managing partner of the Oakland-based startup accelerator Gateway, one of the first incubators for pot-focused entrepreneurs.

"This will be a significant driving force in pushing legalization to other states, at the federal level, and beyond," Larson said. "Tonight is the tipping point."

Related: Images of marijuana in Colorado

21 PHOTOS
Marijuana in Colorado
See Gallery
Marijuana in Colorado
KITTREDGE, CO - MARCH 9: Scott Hello ties limbs of a High CBD hemp plant up to help sustain vertical growth at Ambary Gardens in Kittredge, Colorado on March 9, 2016. Arvada has approved a hemp growing operation for cultivation of CBD oil. A surprising move as Arvada has declined to license recreational or medical marijuana shops. (Photo by Seth McConnell/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
KITTREDGE, CO - MARCH 9: An employee displays trimmed bud from a High CBD hemp strain at Ambary Gardens in Kittredge, Colorado on March 9, 2016. Arvada has approved a hemp growing operation for cultivation of CBD oil. A surprising move as Arvada has declined to license recreational or medical marijuana shops. (Photo by Seth McConnell/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 26: John Fritzel owns four marijuana businesses. He was on the grass couch at Buddy Boy Brands in Denver on Friday, February 26, 2016. He is one of the top businessmen in the marijuana industry in Denver. (Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon/ The Denver Post)
A pedestrian crosses a street in downtown Pueblo, Colorado, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. About 938 dispensaries, which outnumber Starbucks in Colorado, in 2015 yielded $135 million in state taxes and fees, 44 percent more than a year earlier. Yet as the market enters its third year after voters legalized retail sales in 2012, officials question whether the newfound income outweighs the escalating social costs. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Marijuana plants grow in a greenhouse at the Los Suenos Farms facility in Avondale, Colorado, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. About 938 dispensaries, which outnumber Starbucks in Colorado, in 2015 yielded $135 million in state taxes and fees, 44 percent more than a year earlier. Yet as the market enters its third year after voters legalized retail sales in 2012, officials question whether the newfound income outweighs the escalating social costs. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Marijuana plants grow in a greenhouse at the Los Suenos Farms facility in Avondale, Colorado, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. About 938 dispensaries, which outnumber Starbucks in Colorado, in 2015 yielded $135 million in state taxes and fees, 44 percent more than a year earlier. Yet as the market enters its third year after voters legalized retail sales in 2012, officials question whether the newfound income outweighs the escalating social costs. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Manager Ross Phillip stakes marijuana plants in a flower room at the grow facility for Sense of Healing dispensary in Denver, Colorado, U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015. The $3.5 billion U.S. cannabis market is emerging as one of the nation's most power-hungry industries, with the 24-hour demands of thousands of indoor growing sites taxing aging electricity grids and unraveling hard-earned gains in energy conservation. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
LOUISVILLE, CO - NOVEMBER 12: Ajoya is a new marijuana dispensary in Louisville, CO and it's interior space offers a new retail experience for customers. The interior was designed by Roth Sheppard Architects. Marty Lucas works the counter as she fills a boutique shopping bag. Photos of the colorful space on Thursday, November 12, 2015. (Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
LEADVILLE, CO - JUNE 12, 2015: Novelty burlap 'marijuana bags' for sale at an antique shop in Leadville, Colorado. The fake bags are sold throughout Colorado where the purchase and use of recreational marijuana is legal. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
FORT LUPTON, CO - JUNE 10: PureVision Technology president Ed Lehrburger dumps a bag of industrial hemp onto a table to show its similarity to marijuana (in look only) on Wednesday, June 10, 2015. PureVision Technology Inc., a Fort Lupton biofuels company that is processing hemp stalks into sugars, lignin, pulp and CBD extracts. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER CO - APRIL 20: Pot smokers partake in smoking marijuana at exactly 4:20 during the annual 420 celebration in Lincoln Park near the State Capitol in Denver, Colorado on April 20, 2015. (Photo By Helen H. Richardson/ The Denver Post)
AURORA, CO - April 23: 'Headband' a strain of Wednesday, April 23, 2015 at Good Chemistry in Aurora, Colorado. The shop which opened in early April is one of many that have popped up in the Aurora over the last six months of beginning of recreational marijuana in the city. (Photo By Brent Lewis/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
A worker at a dispensary handles bags of marijuana delivered by the courier service CannaRabbit LLC in Louisville, Colorado, U.S., on Friday, March 27, 2015. CannaRabbit and peers are rushing in as regional truckers and nationwide haulers United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp. steer clear of transporting marijuana on concerns over the lack of nationwide clearance of a practice that is still illegal in most states. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
DENVER, CO - MARCH 11: A sample of marijuana is in a jar, for customer to look at and smell, at Euflora Dispensary in Denver, March 11, 2015. Colorado pot sales soar to record in January, bringing $2.3 million for schools. Around $36.4 million of recreational marijuana was sold this January compared to about $14.69 million sold the same month last year. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 11: Robert Grandt works in the grow room at 3D Cannabis Center in Denver, March 11, 2015. Colorado pot sales soar to record in January, bringing $2.3 million for schools. Around $36.4 million of recreational marijuana was sold this January compared to about $14.69 million sold the same month last year. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO. - DECEMBER 06: Beth Bice of Charlotte, NC smokes a joint on the bus during a marijuana tour hosted by My 420 Tours in Denver, CO on December 06, 2014. Bice saw a video advertising the tours and said, 'lets go to Colorado.' She explained, 'Im not a big drinker. So to do this and find people like me it feels awesome. Its a movement, you want to be a part of it. The more and more people that get on board with this, the more and more acceptable it will become. During the day tourists visited La Conte's grow facility, La Conte's Clone Bar & Dispensary, Native Roots dispensary and Illuzions Glass Gallery. (Photo By Craig F. Walker / The Denver Post)
DENVER, CO. - DECEMBER 06: Mike Goldstein of New York, NY photographs himself with plants at La Conte's grow facility during a marijuana tour hosted by My 420 Tours in Denver, CO on December 06, 2014. During the day tourists visited La Conte's grow facility, La Conte's Clone Bar & Dispensary, Native Roots dispensary and Illuzions Glass Gallery. (Photo By Craig F. Walker / The Denver Post)
DENVER, CO - AUGUST 13: Steve Herin, Master Grower at Incredibles, works on repotting marijuana plants in the grow facility on Wednesday, August 13, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. Higher than expected demand for marijuana edibles is pushing several Colorado manufacturers, like Incredibles, to expand their operations. (Photo by Kent Nishimura/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
TELLURIDE, CO - JULY 8, 2014: A sign in the window of one of several medical and recreational marijuana retail stores in Telluride, Colorado, advertises its locally grown products. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JUNE 27: Kayvan Khalatbari is an entrepreneur in Denver. He was photographed on Friday, June 27, 2014 inspecting a strain at Denver Relief. He owns the Sexy Pizza chain, Denver Relief, and founded Sexpot Comedy. He has gained famed by donning a chicken suit (bought online) and mocking Governor John Hickenlooper, for promoting beer but not marijuana. (Denver Post Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Miadich, the bill's co-author, spent a year drafting the bill while working as managing partner of law firm Olson Hagel & Fishburn LLP. He knows firsthand the work that went into it.

"I believe this is a good, comprehensive approach to a problem that everybody should acknowledge exists today," Miadich said. "If other states look at this and they're interested in [legalization], I think they ought to pay pretty close attention to what we do here in California."

Experts within the industry stressed the "historic" nature of the vote.

"This is a historic day for the cannabis movement as California officially legalizes marijuana for the adult market," Max Simon, of Green Flower Media told Business Insider. "Not only will this stop tens of thousands of people from getting arrested each year just for using an all-natural substance that's much safer than alcohol, but it will also create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and give millions of people safe access to a medicine they desperately need."

Kyle Sherman, the CEO of Flowhub, a seed-to-sale tracker for the marijuana industry reflected Simon's thoughts.

"It's fantastic news for the health of this country that California has legalized cannabis for adult-use," Sherman told Business Insider. "Not only are tens of thousands of jobs going to be created but cannabis will be regulated in a system built to keep consumers safe from pesticides and other additives."

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners