Many of those celebrating this New Year’s Eve are as likely to be welcoming the legalization of recreational marijuana sales (at least on a state and local level) as they are the arrival of 2018.
Establishing regulations for recreational marijuana sales has been a long and complicated process since California voters approved Proposition 64 last year. The City of West Hollywood in November adopted an ordinance that will permit businesses to submit applications at a date to be announced in January for opening recreational cannabis shops and cannabis smoking/vaping or eating lounges. The ordinance authorizes the licensing of eight recreational cannabis shops, eight lounges or consumption areas (which must be part of recreational marijuana shop), eight lounges where customers where only edible marijuana products can be sold (candies, etc.), eight medical-use dispensaries and eight WeHo-based delivery services. The four existing medical marijuana dispensaries can apply for temporary licenses to sell recreational marijuana and continue operating at their current locations while they make adjustments to meet the new location and other requirements. The city will appoint an evaluation committee that in late January will begin deciding who gets those licenses.
Actually using recreational marijuana also will be regulated. The City of West Hollywood has published a helpful list of answers to questions local residents might have about what is legal for them and their neighbors to do under the new law. And it has created a cannabis page on the city website to keep residents informed about cannabis regulation. Here’s what you might want to know:
Q. Will I be able to purchase recreational cannabis in the City of West Hollywood starting in January 2018?
A. There are have been four medical cannabis dispensaries located within the City of West Hollywood that will have the ability to sell adult-use retail cannabis on a temporary basis beginning on January 2, 2018, providing they have obtained the required Temporary Use Permit from both the City and State.
Q. How old must you be to purchase adult-use cannabis?
A. You must be at least 21 years old to purchase cannabis for recreational use and 18 for medical use with a prescription from a medical doctor.
Q. Can you ingest cannabis in public?
A. No. You cannot smoke, vape, or ingest cannabis in any form in a public space.
Q. Does a landlord have the right to restrict cannabis use on his or her property and in a tenant’s unit?
A. Yes. Just as a landlord has the right to restrict tobacco use on the property, a landlord can also forbid cannabis use. The prohibition must be in the lease signed by the tenant, or must be agreed to in writing by the tenant if it is not in the original agreement. But as explained below, an existing prohibition against smoking includes cannabis.
Q. If the lease restricts tobacco smoking but does not address cannabis use, is cannabis use allowed?
A. No. The Medical and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) specifically does not allow cannabis use in any location where tobacco use is prohibited. However, landlords are advised to address cannabis use in contracts with new tenants to avoid any misunderstandings.
Q. Does a condominium building have the right to restrict cannabis use on the property and in owners’ unit?
A. Yes. Refer to the condominium building’s Rules and Regulations and/or CC&Rs in regards to cannabis use.
Q. How can I file a complaint against a cannabis-related business or cannabis-related activity?
A. Contact the City of West Hollywood’s Code Compliance Division at (323) 848-6375 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. What recourse do I have if my neighbor smokes cannabis in his apartment and I can smell it in my mine?
A. Currently the City of West Hollywood has no regulation that prohibits smoking cannabis or tobacco in the home. Please contact your landlord or your homeowner’s association (HOA) if you believe smoking is not permitted in a neighboring unit.
Q. The Medical and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) allows for the cultivation of up to six cannabis plants for personal use in an individual’s residence. Can a landlord prohibit a tenant from cultivation for personal use?
A. Yes. The right to grow plants for personal use covers a residence owned by the individual. In a rental property, the landlord still has the ability to impose restrictions through a rental contract.
Q. California Civil Code §1940.10 allows tenants to cultivate certain plants for personal use. Does this law allow cannabis cultivation for personal use?
A. No. California Civil Code §1940.10 specifically exempts cannabis cultivation from its provisions.
Q. Can a tenant use cannabis for medical purposes despite the landlord’s prohibition of cannabis on the property?
A. Yes, if the tenant adheres to certain state law guidelines. The tenant must ask the landlord for a “reasonable accommodation” to use cannabis under state disability law. The request should include a statement from the tenant’s primary care physician that cannabis use is necessary to treat the tenant’s illness. While the MAUCRSA gives a tenant the right to possess and use cannabis for medical purposes, it does not give the tenant the right to smoke it. In order to smoke cannabis, a tenant’s reasonable accommodation request should include a statement that smoking is a medical necessity and the tenant cannot take cannabis in some other way. In any event, the granted reasonable accommodation must not interfere with any other tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment of the property.
Q. How does cannabis legalization impact tenants under Section 8?
A. Because federal law views cannabis as a controlled substance, tenants receiving rent subsidies through Section 8 run the risk of losing their Section 8 vouchers if they possess or use cannabis. This is true even when using medical cannabis and even when the landlord permits cannabis use.
Q. How does cannabis legalization impact homeowners in multi-family dwellings such as condominiums and townhouses?
A. Refer to the condominium building’s rules and regulations and/or covenants, conditions and restrictions in regard to cannabis use. If you have additional questions not answered in this FAQ guide, please email West Hollywood City Hall at email@example.com