In 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington state passed initiatives legalizing cannabis for adults 21 and older under state law. In November 2014, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington also approved recreational use of marijuana. In November 2016, four more states - California, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada - voted in recreational marijuana. It is important to note that the federal government still considers cannabis a dangerous drug and that the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana is a serious crime. Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 drug . Cultivation and distribution of marijuana are felonies; possession for personal use is a misdemeanor; possession of “paraphernalia” is also illegal. Cultivating 100 plants or more carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years according to federal statutes.
How much autonomy will local governments get?
Another core question revolves around the issue of local powers, as a number of counties and municipalities want to exert control over the shape of the industry within their borders, and are racing to enact ordinances and rules of their own in advance of the impending deadline. The League of California Cities has expressed objections that the proposed regulations might undercut local governments. This is a particular concern for regions reluctant to embrace recreational marijuana, though the state's goal is to avoid a confusing legal patchwork that makes it functionally impossible to manage the legal marijuana trade.