usatsi 10515180 Cali vets: heres what you need to know about legal weed

Marijuana samples on display at MedMen in West Hollywood. January 1 it became legal in California to sell recreational marijuana. (Photo by Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY)

By Matt Saintsing

2018 will be a trailblazing year for medical and recreational marijuana, but one state has already rung in the New Year by allowing the official sale and recreational use of cannabis: California.

While many California residents are more than familiar with partaking in toking, the passage of Prop. 64 last year has expanded the legal sale of the plant to anyone 21 and older, allowing for small-scale growing for personal use, and the state-sanctioned possession of up to one ounce of ganja.

But for the almost two million veterans who reside in the Golden State, some questions remain.

What, if anything, does smoking marijuana recreationally mean for VA healthcare?

Read More: Here’s the VA’s New Marijuana Policy

The Department of Veterans Affairs issued new guidance in December that appears to be encouraging more open and transparent communication between veterans who smoke pot, and their doctors.

However, the new greener policy still bans VA physicians from recommending marijuana. The initiative will only allow veterans and their doctors to be more honest when discussing possible treatment, and its impact on any cannabis use.

Will using pot impact my right to own a gun?

While pot may now be legal in California, it remains a Schedule 1 controlled substance federally. So, while it’s all well and good to blaze up on the West Coast, you could be limiting your right to bear arms.

That’s because the California-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in 2016 that marijuana users in its jurisdiction effectively forfeit their Constitutional right to gun ownership, according to L.A. Weekly.

When buying a new firearm, federal forms ask you about marijuana use. So, if you say yes, you could be barred from purchasing a gun.

Can I smoke anywhere in California?

California was the first of 29 states, and the District of Columbia, to legalize medical marijuana, and now they join the ranks of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington state, and Washington, DC for recreational weed.

But the whole state isn’t exactly a newly minted green-zone. Los Angeles and San Francisco, two of the state’s largest cities, won’t allow pot sales right away, because local regulations were not put in place in time before the New Year’s Day launch. Bakersfield, Fresno, and Riverside have adopted laws forbidding recreational cannabis, despite the new state law.

Connect: @MattBSaintsing | Matt@ConnectingVets.com

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