How to Buy Legal Cannabis

Buying cannabis is not the same experience throughout the state of California. Learn the laws and understand the legal aspects of buying cannabis as you read ahead.

Access to cannabis is quickly changing in the U.S., as more and more states pass regulations for recreational and medical sales. California was the first state to legalize medical cannabis in 1996, thanks in large part to Dennis Peron, a gay American activist and businessman who became a leader in the movement for the legalization of cannabis in the 1990s. Recreational cannabis sales finally started in California on January 1, 2018 and it became the most populous state with legal dispensaries. In fact, California’s cannabis economy is currently the largest in the world.

California Recreational Cannabis Law

  • Adults ages 21 and older can buy up to one ounce of cannabis per day, or eight grams of cannabis in concentrates and edibles.
  • Adults can grow up to six plants.
  • It’s illegal for dispensaries to sell between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM.
  • It’s illegal to consume cannabis in any public areas, within 1,000 feet of a school or child daycare, and in any location where tobacco is prohibited.
  • It’s illegal to have cannabis in a car unless it’s in a child-proof container.

Where can I legally buy cannabis? Find a licensed dispensary approved for recreational sales. A medical cannabis dispensary won’t be able to serve you unless you are a patient with a valid doctor’s recommendation or card. Selling cannabis without a license is illegal. You can find state-licensed dispensaries via the California Bureau of Cannabis Control here.

Buying cannabis is not the same experience throughout the state of California, though. Municipalities are able to make their own decisions about cannabis, meaning some may not have any adult-use dispensaries. To learn about your local cannabis policies, check out this very thorough searchable database.

What should I bring with me to the dispensary?

  • A government-issued ID that shows you are at least 21 years old. You do not have to be a California resident or possess a California state-issued ID in order to buy recreational cannabis.
  • Cash - most dispensaries are cash only; however, many have ATMs on site.

Can I get cannabis delivered? In short, yes! All the same laws and regulations apply to cannabis delivery and you will likely need to upload a photo of your ID to the delivery service’s platform. Interestingly, due to laws that passed in January 2019, cannabis delivery is allowed throughout the entire state, even in places where it was previously banned (with the exception of public and federal land, schools and day care centers). Lastly, the person who places the order must be the person who accepts it.