California Cannabis Laws

Cannabis  (often informally referred to as marijuana, pot, etc.) has been legal for adult, recreational use in California since January 2018. It’s a relatively new tourism space and each city and jurisdiction approaches it differently. No matter where you are in California, it’s important to follow the rules and regulations so you stay on the up-and-up.

The Basics

If you are 21 and older, you can buy and possess up to one ounce (28.5 grams) of cannabis and up to eight grams of concentrated cannabis. It’s illegal to give or sell retail cannabis to minors. Only establishments licensed by the California Bureau of Cannabis Control are authorized to sell retail cannabis products. See our Cannabis Guide for state-licensed dispensaries in Santa Barbara County.

Where You Can & Can’t Consume

You can consume cannabis on private property, but property owners and landlords may ban the use and possession of cannabis on their properties. If you are staying at a hotel, you must follow the no-smoking rules.

You can’t use, smoke, eat or vape adult-use cannabis in public places. It’s illegal to smoke cannabis in locations where smoking is illegal—that means beaches, parks, sidewalks, bars, restaurants, hotels and buildings open to the public are all no-no’s. Similarly, you can’t use cannabis within 1,000 feet of a school, day care center or youth center while children are present.

It’s also illegal to consume or possess cannabis on federal lands including national parks—in Santa Barbara County, that includes Channel Islands National Park & Marine Sanctuary and the Los Padres National Forest.


It’s illegal to drive under the influence of cannabis; violators can be subjected to a sobriety test and ticketed. It’s illegal to have an open container of cannabis in a vehicle while driving or riding in the passenger seat. If you have cannabis in a vehicle, it must be in an approved sealed package or container. Otherwise, it must be kept in the trunk of the vehicle.


You can’t take cannabis across state lines, even if you are traveling to another state where cannabis is legal. If you are flying within California, TSA agents will confiscate cannabis given they are a federal agency and cannabis is not legal under federal laws.


Guide to Cannabis
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