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Marijuana Ordinance Updates

On Nov. 8, 2016, California voters passed Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana.

Under the state law, if you are 21 and older, you may:

  • Smoke or ingest marijuana or marijuana products
  • Possess up to 28.5 grams of marijuana, or eight grams of concentrated marijuana
  • Cultivate up to six marijuana plants per residence for personal use

Be aware that it is illegal under state law to:

  • Smoke marijuana in any public place
  • Smoke marijuana where smoking tobacco is prohibited
  • Use marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school or daycare center
  • Give or sell marijuana to minors
  • Use marijuana while in a vehicle, regardless of whether it is moving or parked, and whether you are the passenger or driver
  • Take marijuana across state lines
  • Consume marijuana in public
  • Possess marijuana on Federal Land, including national parks and forests, federal office buildings and courthouses

Marijuana is still illegal under federal law and remains classified under the Federal Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule 1 narcotic. Cultivation, distribution, possession and use are still criminal acts under federal law.

Additional Sunnyvale Restrictions

Sunnyvale has historically prohibited medical marijuana dispensaries and businesses within city limits. On Sept. 26, 2017, Sunnyvale City Council unanimously voted to continue that prohibition by clarifying that all commercial marijuana activities, whether medicinal or recreational, are not allowed in Sunnyvale.

Prohibited commercial marijuana activities include but are not limited to: cultivation, deliveries, manufacture, processing, storing, laboratory testing, labeling, distribution, or sale of marijuana or marijuana products.

Council also banned personal outdoor cultivation of marijuana. Personal indoor cultivation of up to six plants per residence is allowed, consistent with state law, but must comply with the safety regulations for personal cultivation in Sunnyvale Municipal Code section 9.86.040.

Be aware that the City’s Smokefree Law also applies to marijuana use. 

How old do I have to be to purchase, possess or use marijuana?

You must be 21 or older to buy, possess or use marijuana.

Can I purchase marijuana in Sunnyvale?

No. In Sunnyvale, you may not:

  • Purchase marijuana
  • Receive deliveries of marijuana purchased from retailers in other cities
Can I give away marijuana?

Yes, but there are restrictions. You may give away up to 28.5 grams of marijuana flower or up to 8 grams of marijuana concentrate as long as:

  • You receive no compensation whatsoever
  • The person receiving it is 21 or older
Can I use marijuana in public?

State law prohibits marijuana use in public. 

Can I use marijuana on my private property, like on a balcony or in the backyard?

It depends. Generally, if you are 21 and older, you can consume or smoke marijuana on private property that is not open to the public, such as a private home, your home's deck or your backyard, as long as you are at least 1000 feet away from a school.

 If you live in a multi-unit residence, such as a condominium, townhome, duplex or apartment, you may use marijuana edibles in your residence. Smoking inside or on balconies and patios is restricted by Sunnyvale's Smokefree ordinance, which allows smoking only in a designated smoking area on private property.

Can I have marijuana in my car?

Yes, but it is illegal to use marijuana in a motor vehicle. Marijuana may be carried in cars, but it must be in a closed container.

Is there a DUI-like equivalent for driving under the influence of marijuana?

Yes, it is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana and it can result in a DUI, just like alcohol.

Do employers have to accommodate the lawful use or possession of marijuana?

No. The law specifically states that employers do not have to accommodate marijuana use or possession at the workplace and permits employers to enforce policies regarding marijuana use by employees.

This is a summary only and does not constitute legal advice. Individuals are responsible for educating themselves and complying with all applicable laws.

Last Updated: Jun 25, 2021