VICTORVILLE — The legalization of recreational marijuana through the passage of Proposition 64 on Nov. 8 has business owners, patients, entrepreneurs and residents wanting to know more about cannabis-use laws.
A white cargo van with a large green cross graphic emblazoned on its side sits outside SB Medical Evaluation near the corner of Seventh Street and Valley Center Drive in Victorville.
The text on the van reads, “We’ll come to you if you can’t come to us,” along with a phone number to the evaluation facility where a licensed physician has evaluated hundreds of patients and provided medical marijuana card recommendations to qualifying patients under Prop. 215 and SB 420.
Reggie Morales of Hesperia said he was puzzled after he saw the van, wondering why anyone would need a medical evaluation and card to use marijuana since recreational use of cannabis became legal in the state on Nov. 9 last year.
“I thought we could just buy it and light up after Prop. 64 (The Adult Use of Marijuana Act) passed last year,” said Morales, 47, a construction worker who wants to experiment with medical marijuana to ease back pain after suffering a recent work injury. “I know it’s legal and all, but I didn’t realize we’re still waiting for the state to set laws.”
Medical card holders are the only ones who can legally purchase medical marijuana from a delivery service or collective in permitted cities, but recreational sales are not allowed until state licensing is implemented in January 2018, when the sale of cannabis will be taxed.
When taxes on recreational and medical cannabis kick in, both types will be subject to a 15 percent tax, said attorney Pamela Epstein.
Morales, who walks with the support of a cane, said he’s working on getting his medical marijuana card from SB Medical and purchasing cannabis from a local delivery service.
Currently, Apple Valley, Hesperia and Victorville prohibit mobile dispensaries, and the commercial cultivation and manufacturing of marijuana. Adelanto is the only city that has permitted the marijuana-themed activities.
“Proposition 64 was a landmark set for California and it demonstrated the true will of the people,” Epstein told the Daily Press. “The local lawmakers must not only understand this mandate, but be willing to put aside their own interest to truly serve at the pleasure and direction of the people.”
Medical cards can be issued to patients 18 and older compared to recreational users who must be 21 year of age. Adults without a medical card can possess, for personal use, not more than 28.5 grams (about an ounce) of marijuana. An adult without a medical card can be given an ounce or less of marijuana.
While recreational marijuana collectives won’t be allowed to open for a year, medical cannabis collectives can operate in permitted cities. Individuals who use, sell or cultivate marijuana outside the law may still face criminal penalties.
California residents are currently allowed to possess and grow up to six plants per parcel of land for their personal use. Card-holding patients may grow up to 100 square feet of potted cannabis.
The passing of Prop. 64 did not affect the rights of card holders, who can still smoke marijuana in most places where tobacco smoking is allowed.
Local municipalities and regions may ban outdoor cultivation, but won’t have the authority to ban personal grow (six plants) indoors or in a “secure” location. Patients with a doctor's recommendation can still grow more plants if needed, provided their local jurisdictions will allow it.
As for delivery services, Prop. 64 allows licensed retailers and mobile services to deliver, with local governments unable to prevent delivery of marijuana or marijuana products.
As Adelanto continues to work through its permitting process for dispensaries, authorities continue to close collectives in and investigate illegal grows throughout the High Desert.
San Bernardino County Hesperia Sheriff's Station deputies detained three adults after an illegal marijuana grow was found at a Hesperia home on Wednesday. Evidence that the electricity at the home had been bypassed was also discovered.
State officials are working to develop the regulations that will be applied to those who cultivate, transport, test and sell cannabis.
When it comes to the workplace, Prop. 64 maintains the status quo for employers seeking to maintain a drug- and alcohol-free workplace. Employer policies related to drug possession, use and impairment as well as testing should not be altered with the legalization of marijuana use.
As for those behind the wheel, drivers are subject to California DUI laws, with marijuana viewed like a prescription drug, alcohol and unknown substance that impairs driving.
Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227, RDeLa Cruz@VVDailyPress.com or on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz.