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What Does the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana in California Mean for Medical Marijuana?

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On November 8th, California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 64, which legalizes recreational marijuana. That was almost 20 years to the day after voters approved proposition 215, which made it legal for patients to grow, buy, and possess medical marijuana, with a physician’s approval. Medical marijuana regulations have been the law of the land for two decades, and now we will start to see a few changes to the marijuana landscape.

So what does the legalization of recreational marijuana in California mean for medical marijuana? For the moment, it means good things.

Medical marijuana dispensaries are still the only legal source of marijuana

While the new law makes the sale of recreational marijuana legal, it also mandates that any purveyor of cannabis be licensed by the state first. It also gives state legislators a full year to determine how these licenses will be administered.

This means it could be January of 2018 before any purely recreational marijuana shops are given license to do business. So while California citizens may immediately possess up to an ounce of marijuana flower, and may cultivate up to six plants at home for personal use, they do not for the moment have any legal means of buying it.

Except for medical marijuana providers. Since medical marijuana dispensaries have been under strict regulation for two decades, they remain perfectly legal outlets under the new law. There’s even been some suggestions the state may pass legislation allowing licensed medical marijuana dispensaries to be the first to legally sell marijuana for recreational use, pending a state licensing mechanism for recreational cannabis shops.

While this is not yet the case, it remains true that patients with confirmed and updated doctor’s recommendations may continue to procure marijuana flowers, edible, extracts, and other cannabis products from their favorite licensed medical marijuana dispensaries and delivery services. Therefore, it behooves existing medical marijuana patients to renew existing physician recommendations through the end of 2017, as it will likely remain the only legal way to purchase marijuana, even for recreational use.

Card carrying medical marijuana patients can enjoy a tax holiday

Another facet of the new recreational marijuana law in California is taxation. The tax revenue states like Colorado and Washington have generated since approving their own recreational marijuana laws definitely played a big role in California wishing to legalize marijuana. Prop 64 establishes a 15% excise tax on all marijuana — recreational or medical — on top of the 7.5% state sales tax.

Furthermore, the proposition exempts medical marijuana sales from the state sales tax — a move intended to reduce the additional tax burden for medical marijuana patients. However, while the sales tax exemption for medical marijuana takes effect immediately, the 15% marijuana tax won’t apply until recreational marijuana sales licenses are issued, in 2018.

Shop for medical marijuana in Point Loma

For legal marijuana purchases and tax relief, medical marijuana dispensaries are still the only way to go, and in Point Loma there’s only one licensed medical marijuana shop that can claim the title of the best: the Point Loma Patients Consumer Cooperative!

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