A handful of new laws took effect on Monday that will affect everything from minimum wage to jaywalking to passports to kids driving boats. Not to mention the big question… Will you be able to walk into a dispensary on Jan. 1 without medical paperwork and buy marijuana?
Here’s a quick summary of a few of the more notable new regulations.
Californians, age 21 and older, can now legally buy up to one ounce of marijuana and .28 ounces of concentrates, thanks to the passage of Prop 64.
But, according to local officials, the fact that recreational pot is legal on Jan. 1, doesn’t necessarily mean it is now legal to buy just anywhere in Sonoma County. As of Jan. 1, the County will have not permitted any recreational marijuana dispensaries in the unincorporated Valley, and the City of Sonoma has a moratorium on the sale and outdoor cultivation of cannabis.
Retailers need state and local licenses to sell, and so far only about 30 percent of the cities and counties in the state have passed regulations that will allow for the sale of recreational pot in the New Year.
“What individual cities choose to do after Jan. 1 is up to them,” said Tim Ricard, the county’s cannabis program manager.
As of today, there are no businesses legally selling cannabis in Sonoma Valley, and Ricard said that the only application received to date was incomplete.
Outside of town, Solful in Sebastopol is throwing a party on Jan. 1 to celebrate the change in the law and all that will be needed to buy there in 2018 is a valid California driver’s license showing you are 21 years of age or older.
SPARC in Sebastopol is also throwing an open-to-all “Adult Use Celebration” from 10:30 a.m. to close on Jan. 1, with free food, gifts, live music and entertainment.
Mercy Wellness in Cotati will also be welcoming all customers 21 and over in 2018. The dispensary plans to have separate areas for medical and recreational purchases.
Once you have your cannabis in hand, however, don’t forget that you can’t smoke anywhere tobacco is prohibited, including within 1,000 feet (300 meters) of a school or a daycare center when kids are around or while driving.
Four new laws are good news for local students.
AB830 permanently eliminates the California high school exit exam as a condition of graduation.
AB19 waives first-year tuition fees for first-time, full-time students who qualify for aid.
Beginning in 2018, public colleges and universities will be prohibited from collecting information about student citizenship or immigratioin status, thanks to AB699 and AB21.
And, finally, in what is promising news for Sonoma Valley girls, a new law requires that public middle and high schools where at least 40 percent of students are below the federal poverty line must now stock free pads and tampons in half of a school’s bathrooms (AB10).
On Jan. 1, California’s minimum wage increases to $10.50 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees and to $11 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees.
PARENTAL LEAVE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
Small businesses with 20 or more employees must begin providing eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected parental leave with medical benefits, beginning in 2018. The leave must be taken within one year of the child’s birth, adoption or foster care placement. Previously, only companies with more than 50 employees were subject to these requirements.