Review, explanation and analysis

By Chris Conrad, with Mikki Norris, Lauren Vazquez and assorted other attorneys and experts on the initiative.  © Drug Policy Action, 2016

This document explains the structure and functions of the proposed Adult Use of Marijuana Act (signatures turned in May 4, 2016 no ballot number assigned yet.)

Download a PDF of the original Powerpoint presentation

It begins with a brief history of the legalization process in California and the US, followed by an overview of the initiative, how it interfaces with medical marijuana laws, newly legal activities, commercial regulation, enforcement penalties, taxes, disbursements social justice aspects and AUMA’s importance going forth from here.

The Road to Legalization

1996: California voters passed Prop 215* creating a limited immunity for medical marijuana patients to use in court if they get arrested and calling on the legislature to regulate distribution. The legislature cannot change this immunity.

2004: California legislature passes SB 420** limited immunity for groups of patients called “collectives” and created a state ID card program to identify qualified patients who voluntarily register with the program.

2010  voters narrowly rejected Prop 19, which would have legalized non-medical use by adults and licensed commercial activities.

2012 Voters in Colorado and Washington State legalized non-medical use and sales of marijuana. Washington state bans non-medical home gardens and batters state medical marijuana providers.

2013 The US government issues the federal “Cole Memo” that it will not interfere with state laws that include “robustly enforced” “strict regulations.”

2014 Voters in Oregon, Alaska and Washington DC legalize non-medical adult use.

2015 California legislators pass the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety ACT (MMRSA) that removes the collective legal defense and requires both state and local licenses to provide medical marijuana or share between patients.  State Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom sponsors a Blue Ribbon Commission to get input from voters all over the state in designing a legalization bill for California. Some 17 initiatives are filed by various groups; only AUMA is funded.

2016 The non-medical legalization initiative collected more than enough signatures to be placed on the California ballot. Legalization initiatives are also expected to qualify in AZ, NV, OH, MA, ME and possibly Florida.

How AUMA 2016 works

  • AUMA protects and expands the rights of patients under Prop 215, SB 420 and MMRSA.
  • Creates a legal right for adults 21+ to possess, share and carry small amounts of cannabis and concentrate, grow discrete home gardens and keep the harvest, including resentencing, early release and expungement of criminal records, with a presumption of being eligible.
  • Eliminates marijuana jail offenses for minors, reduces most penalties for adults 18-20, retroactive effect, restorative justice
  • Creates a statewide commercial system based on the  with agency to review and revise policies
  • Complies with Federal “Cole” Guidelines
  • Allows localities wide latitude in licensing
  • Provides for the use of tax revenues
  • Allows legislature to reduce penalties and repeal statutes, cannot change Prop 215

Legalization; not prohibition repeal

  • One ounce / 8 grams / 6 plants
  • Legal for adults 21+ to possess, transport,process, share and give away
  • Legal home-grows up to 6 plants in enclosed space; Localities cannot ban indoor grows
  • May keep the harvest or give it away
  • More than 1 ounce/8 grams/6 plants = Prop 215
  • Civil and criminal penalties for violations


 AUMA and medical marijuana law

  • Protects Prop 215 rights covering larger quantities, all ages
  • Overturns local bans on enclosed, discreet gardens up to six plants, legalizes sharing
  • Expands parental & privacy rights for patients
  • Relieves patients with state MMID card frompaying sales tax; other taxes still apply
  • Caps the MMID Card at $100, less for Medi-Cal

Creates a dual regulatory system

  • Statewide licensing plan parallels MMRSA
  • Licenses: 13 types of cultivation plus retail, manufacture,testing, distribution, and micro
  • No excessive concentration of licenses in a city or county
  • Allows local governments to license, zone, ban businesses or defer to the state program
  • Regulates cannabis as an agricultural product, water, pesticides
  • Testing, labeling, packaging, dosage rules
  • Advertising Restrictions
  • Regulations must be evidence based and feasible

Favors small California businesses

  • Must be a CA resident to get a license (1/2019)
  • Five year delay on issuing large scale licenses
  • Fees are proportionate to business size
  • Smallest, micro-licensees can be vertically integrated but not largest cultivation licensees
  • Five year delay on issuing large scale licenses
  • Anti-monopoly provisions, no price fixing, can’t sell at a loss to undercut competitors

Provides for Commercial Taxes

  • Production tax $9.25 ounce bud, $2.75 per ounce of leaf paid by commercial grower
  • Production tax to be reviewed & revised based on market rates
  • 15% excise tax included in retail consumer’s sales price, + State Sales Tax
  • Requires vote of people to increase local tax (Patients with MMID Card Exempt)

Provides for the use of tax revenues

  • Pay for Administrative Costs of Commercial Licensing
  • $10 mil for CA Universities to study implementation
  • $3 mil to CHP to study DUI’s
  • $50 mil grants for economic development of communities affected by prohibition
  • $2 mil to Center for Medicinal Cannabis research
  • 60% Youth Education and Prevention
  • 20% Environmental Restoration & Preservation
  • 20% Local Law Enforcement Grants
  • No CMT funds go to localities with bans

Retailers & Distributors

• 26070. (3) “Microbusiness,” for the cultivation of marijuana on an area less than 10,000 square feet and to act as a licensed distributor, Level 1 manufacturer, and retailer under this division, provided such licensee complies with all requirements imposed by this division on licensed cultivators, distributors, Level 1* manufacturers, and retailers to the extent the licensee engages in such activities.

* Sites that manufacture marijuana products using nonvolatile solvents, or no solvents.

Other points of special interest

  • Sets fines for smoking or vaping in public
  • On-Site Consumption Licenses
  • Local government can license “cup” events
  • Allows hemp production & manufacturing
  • Does not authorize driving impaired, “open container,” or smoking in driver’s compartment
  • ‘Drug Free Workplace’ — can still drug test
  • Landlords don’t have to allow cultivation

Social Justice Restored

  • Makes many misdemeanors legal
  • Reduces many felonies to misdemeanors
  • Retroactive relief for cannabis offenders who are already facing prosecution or sentencing
  • Allows priors to be reduced and/or expunged
  • No jail for under-age offenders, records closed
  • Prior convictions may not prevent licensing
  • Legal cannabis no longer grounds for police search


Recap and Conclusion

  • Legalizes for patients and non-medical adults
  • Takes consumers out of the closet
  • Sends a message to the world that people want cannabis to be treated more like alcohol
  • Emboldens other states, nations to legalize
  • Undermines drug cartels’ market grip
  • Opens world’s largest cannabis market to you

Prepared by cannabis expert Chris Conrad •

Books by Chris Conrad

  • The Newbie’s Guide to Cannabis & the Industry
  • Cannabis Yields and Dosage
  • Shattered Lives: PortraitsFrom America’s Drug War
  • Oaksterdam University
  • Consultation services
  • Expert witness in, 510-275-9311, [email protected],