First, it became legal — on Jan. 1, 2018 — for adults to enjoy recreational marijuana, and for shops (as well as medical dispensaries) to sell cannabis in California, thanks to the November 2016 passing of Proposition 64 by voters. Among other things, this new day had weed fans imagining a time in the near future when marijuana tours were just as popular as the state's emblematic wine-country tours.
Then, three days later, on Jan. 4, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he was rescinding a trio of memos from the Obama administration that left marijuana-friendly states alone, calling it "a return to the rule of law."
Essentially, Sessions ruled, states like California can approve marijuana sales, but the federal government has ultimate say in prosecution. And right now, marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. So where does that leave marijuana advocates, sellers and tour operators in California? And what about people who want to travel there — like, soon?
Chris Conrad, an East Bay, California resident who, among other things, has been working to legalize marijuana in the state for more than 30 years, told HowStuffWorks Sessions' ruling is just the latest in a long series of challenges toward full legalization of cannabis in California. Conrad should know. He's testified as a marijuana expert more than 400 times; runs Cannabis Consumers Campaign and co-founded (with his wife, Mikki Norris) Friends of Prop 64, and in 2016 published the book "The Newbies Guide to Cannabis & The Industry."
"The natural trajectory is, over the next five years we're going to see a huge change in California," Conrad says. "People should come out and see it now to get a sense of what this really means over time."
With that in mind, we asked Conrad to give us the lowdown on everything an out-of-state tourist might need to know when planning a weed-centric visit to the Golden State.
First, the nitty-gritty on the new laws in California, which took effect on Jan. 1: The Adult Use of Marijuana Act allows recreational use of marijuana for any adults older than 21 (along with those who are state residents, aged 18-20, and have a medical marijuana card), and for recreational shops to sell the stuff. But there are specific limitations — i.e., ways to still get arrested or fined.