Beard Bros. Pharms Cannabis Laws Road Trip - Part 1: The West Coast

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Our state-by-state breakdown of current cannabis laws begins out on the wild, wild, west coast where the cannabis movement continues to make waves that are felt across the country.

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HAWAII
Medical Use – Yes
Recreational Use – No
Home Cultivation – Yes up to 25 plants


We start way out west in Hawaii where they instituted an ambitious medical marijuana program in the year 2000, but it was not until 2015 that further legislation was passed to aid in the opening of dispensary outlets and finally in the summer of 2017 access to legal medical marijuana was improved for patients.

In Hawaii the voters are not given a voice in the matter, instead it is up to state legislators to write and pass any cannabis related laws. Even so, they allow local universities to research the plant and they allow qualified registered nurses to write recommendations, so the state seems to be on a progressive track towards true cannabis reform.

They don’t take kindly to concentrates on the islands, however, with misdemeanor or felony charges possible for possession of any amount.

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ALASKA
Medical Use – Yes
Recreational Use – Yes
Home Cultivation – Yes up to 25 plants


Alaska recorded its first legal recreational cannabis sale shortly after legalizing adult use in late 2016. While they do have a medical marijuana program as well, there are no business licenses issued under that classification so it is wholly dependent on patient/caregiver relationships.

New rules have been proposed to establish public consumption “cannabis cafes” but the state legislature failed to vote on the matter before their 2018 session came to a close. The measure enjoys strong public support but will be shelved until 2019.

Home growing remains popular as the state Supreme Court definitively ruled that Alaska citizens can have up to 25 plants in their private residence under the state’s right-to-privacy laws.

Like Hawaii, possession of any amount of hash or concentrates can lead to a misdemeanor charge that can carry up to a $10,000 fine and a year in a cold Alaskan jail cell.

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WASHINGTON
Medical Use – Yes
Recreational Use – Yes
Home Cultivation – Not allowed at all

When Washington became the first state to legalize the adult recreational use of cannabis in 2012, the new program absorbed the state’s medical marijuana program rendering it obsolete. Medical cardholders can still find sales-tax-free deals at one of 176 MMJ-endorsed recreational cannabis dispensaries located throughout the state and they are allowed to purchase up to 3x the recreational legal limit during each visit.  

Adults can possess up to one ounce of dried buds in private, though getting popped with it in public could lead to a $100 fine. Over a zip and you could be looking at a misdemeanor.

Laws on hash are a bit more lax, allowing the possession of up to 7 grams of “marijuana concentrate” before criminal charges can come into play.

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Oregon
Medical Use – Yes
Recreational Use – Yes
Home Cultivation – Yes up to 4 plants

With literally dozens of cannabis-related bills being slowly mulled over in the Oregon state legislature, the true picture of what the laws will ultimately look like there is yet to be determined.

Unlike Washington to their north, Oregon maintains separate medical and recreational cannabis markets and rulesets. Similar to Washington, medical cardholders can enjoy tax-free purchases at select rec shops.

Oregonians can possess up to a full ounce of cannabis concentrates in the privacy of their own home, as long as they made it or bought it from a shop. Wow. Black market hash carries considerably stiffer penalties.

With no limit on the number of dispensaries that can be opened, and with a relatively progressive policy towards commercial cultivation, Oregon is experiencing a severe imbalance between supply and demand, with way, way, way more weed being grown than can be consumed. This has led to $5 8ths and $50 ounces of beaster mids flooding the market.

Will California follow the same path?

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California
Medical Use – Yes
Recreational Use – Yes
Home Cultivation – Yes up to 6 plants

In 1996 California voters passed Prop 215, allowing for the creation of a robust – but a bit wild – medical marijuana program that thrived in the state for the next 20 years.

Proposition 64 was passed in 2016 by California voters who were confused into thinking it was in their best interests. Whether you are for or against cannabis reform, it is not hard to recognize the miserable attempt to suddenly harness the 5th largest economy in the known universe with unrealistic regulations on cannabis that no other sector of that economy has to endure.

Not unlike seeing a Home Depot come in and crush every local hardware store, massive waves of corporate cash are pouring into the California cannabis scene, drowning out the very businesses and individuals who laid the foundation for mainstream cannabis acceptance.

First year tax revenues are going to fall well short of projections and the big, bad “black market” is in the crosshairs to take the blame while too many people ignore the outrageous prices and taxes and the lack of quality being touted as ‘top shelf’ these days.

Still, for all of its faults, Prop 64 does allow for up to 6 plants grown at home and the possession of up to an ounce of dried buds and 8 grams of concentrates before facing any criminal charges.

In the decade leading up to the passage of the controversial law, state law enforcement had made over 500,000 arrests on cannabis-related charges – virtually all victimless crimes and disproportionately enforced against minorities.

So hopefully those numbers will go way down as some sort of silver lining to this mess the state currently finds itself in.

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Nevada
Medical Use – Yes
Recreational Use – Yes
Home Cultivation – Yes up to 6 plants

Nevada voters convincingly passed the adult recreational use of cannabis in November of 2016 allowing all residents and Vegas visitors the right to possess up to an ounce of buds and an eighth of concentrates.

Anyone 21 or older who lives more than 25 miles from a licensed recreational cannabis outlet also has the right to grow up to 6 plants at home.

The state still supports a successful and growing medical marijuana program as well, and reciprocates MMJ recommendations from several states to satisfy the nonstop flow of toke-seeking tourists.

Simply put – it’s working in Nevada.

The next step is to allow for public consumption and the Strip will truly be lit.

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Arizona
Medical Use – Yes
Recreational Use – No
Home Cultivation – Yes up to 12 plants (distance restrictions)

Arizona failed to pass adult use legalization in 2016 but maintains a very popular medical marijuana program with over 152,000 registered patients and right around 100 MMJ dispensaries licensed to operate throughout the state.

With an $11.5 million surplus in the state’s MMJ program, lawsuits have sprung up by patients who feel that the $150 registration fee is excessive, and based on the growing surplus, unnecessary.

In May the state Supreme Court ruled that cannabis possession on a college campus by a valid MMJ cardholder could no longer be automatically considered a crime.

More recently the state Court of Appeals passed an outright ban on all cannabis concentrates – wax, shatter, vape pens, you name it. The industry, clearly under the advice of countless lawyers, shrugged the ruling off and continues with business as usual until the Supreme Court ultimately decides that case as well.

Medical marijuana cardholders may legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of flowers for personal use, and if they live more than 25 miles from a licensed dispensary they are allowed to grow up to 12 plants in an "enclosed, locked facility”.

Advocates are already working to get adult recreational use on the ballot later this year.

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Of course, things are always changing on the cannabis scene and it is up to you to stay on the right side of the law, wherever you may be puffin tough.

We routinely reference these websites to stay a step ahead:

www.mpp.org
https://norml.org
https://thecannabisindustry.org

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series next week when we take a look at the states of the Mid West and where they stand in the ever-evolving landscape of cannabis reform.

*this information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice