How And Why California Has Always Been At The Forefront Of Influencing Cannabis Culture

California, also known as the Green State, has a long and rich history of cannabis culture. With the Hollywood and Silicon Valley nestled in the lap of California, it comes as no surprise that the state had immense influence over the country.

California has exercised its soft power to persuade the legalization of the drug. While we know the state to be the first to be at the forefront of legalizing marijuana movement, it was also one of the first to implement the ban!

california state flag cannabis culture

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So whether you are considering weed delivery Santa Cruz, or are just interested in everything weed, here is the journey of California and cannabis over the last century!

The Poison and Pharmacy Act (1907)

In 1907, California passed the Poison and Pharmacy Act, which banned the sale of morphine, opium, and cocaine without a prescription. In 1913, marijuana also made it to list, making California the first state to prohibit cannabis. Soon enough, the anti-cannabis hysteria reached its climax with several raids and crackdowns.

By 1925, those found in possession of weed were liable to be sentenced to six years in prison, while second offenders could be jailed for ten years by 1930! The state passed the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act to tighten these drug containment measures.

In 1954, selling cannabis was punishable for up to 15 years in prison, while possession could attract a 1 to 10-year sentence. The third sale or possession offense could get you imprisoned for life!

While the government was occupied in making marijuana illegal, the hippies and beatniks fought hard to keep the cannabis culture alive. They were successful in establishing LEMAR (LEgalize MARijuana) in 1964, making it the first marijuana legalization group in the US. Following this development, the Saturday Evening Post also published a report on how half the state’s population had tried weed.

At this point, California had assumed the “marijuana maverick” reputation. By 1972, the state had pulled off a complete one-eighty where it tried to legalize cannabis under Proposition 19. Unfortunately, Prop-19 was unable to gain the popular vote, as 66.5% voted against it.

However, weed enthusiasts continued to push for a change that led to the Berkley Marijuana Initiative of 1973, which forbade police officers from making cannabis-related arrests without due approval of the city council.

The Road to Legalization of Medical Marijuana

california state flag cannabis culture

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Soon after the Berkley Initiative, 1975 saw the introduction of Senate Bill 95 under San Francisco’s Mayor, George Moscone. It dictated that the possession of an ounce (or less) of cannabis is only a misdemeanor and will not attract any jail time. However, the offender will have to pay $100 in fine.

The progressive approach resulted in the Berkley Marijuana Initiative II of 1979, wherein offenses such as possession, sale, transportation, and cultivation of weed gained the lowest priority for legal action. The 1980s saw research in the field of marijuana usage for medical purposes.

By the early 1990s, San Francisco emerged as a leader in pushing for the legalization of medical marijuana. In contrast with the previous vote, 1991 saw 80% of voters in favor of Proposition P, which allows the medical use of cannabis. The San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club was founded in 1992, which became the nodal agency for the sale and distribution of medical marijuana.

On 5th November 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana under Proposition 215.

The Complete Journey of Cannabis Legalization

Cannabis enthusiasts did not wish to lose momentum and continued to push for the complete legalization of marijuana. While the government attempted to regulate the sale and usage of cannabis, the movement for legalization had gained full steam by the late 2000s.

In November 2010, Californian residents went to poll for Proposition 19, which laid the groundwork for the legalization of recreational marijuana. However, Prop 19 missed the mark with a slim margin, as 54% of voters voted against it.

california state flag cannabis culture

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The United States Attorneys for California state began witch-hunting for property owners and landlords who were renting their estate for cannabis cultivation and sale. This act came as a crushing blow. In the meantime, Colorado and Washington successfully managed to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012 and 2013. In response, a local survey indicated that nearly 55% of California residents would now be willing to vote in favor of legalizing marijuana.

8th November 2016 marked the day when a whopping 57% of residents voted in favor of Proposition 64 that fully legalized the cultivation, sale, and distribution of cannabis in its various forms. However, it did lay a couple of ground rules on what is acceptable and what is illegal.

California residents above the age of 21 could now transport, possess, or sell a maximum of an ounce of dry weed (or eight grams of concentrate) without being fined. Further, cannabis cultivators could grow up to six live plants in their private residence, provided that it is sheltered from the public view.

California has a long list of dos and don’ts that you can check out online in terms of consumption of marijuana. Prop 64, which had been passed in November 2016, came to effect in January 2018.

The legalization of cannabis started influencing pop culture references and people’s perception of weed. Shows like “Weeds,” “High Maintenance,” and “Disjointed” are making an attempt to normalize pot usage and dissociate the stigma associated with it.

Final Thoughts

From the above, we can see how the Golden State has been a trailblazer in normalizing cannabis consumption. From prohibiting marijuana to making it fully legal, California has experienced quite a journey! Clearly, the state has moved beyond the Reefer Madness campaign to a more progressive outlook towards marijuana.

However, its history is just a part of the whole picture. With its current stature, California will continue to use its soft power tactics to mold the public opinion on cannabis.

Whether it is the representation in mainstream culture or just weed delivery San Jose California has always been on the top of their cannabis game! The nation-wide cultural influence of California is bound to spur the legalization of recreational marijuana in the rest of the states.


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