Youth

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It is illegal for anyone under 21 to smoke, consume, buy, or possess cannabis (marijuana, weed, pot) for recreational use.

If you are 18 or older and have a current qualifying physician’s recommendation or a valid county-issued medical marijuana identification card, you are permitted to use medicinal cannabis.

If you are under 21 and caught in possession of cannabis you may be required to complete drug education or counseling and community service (unless you have a current qualifying physician’s recommendation or a valid county-issued medical marijuana identification card). You could also face additional penalties (fines and jail time); depending on the location you are in when you are caught, whether it is your second offense and other factors.

Immigration status

Even though adult use cannabis is legal under California law, it is not legal under Federal law.  If you are 21 years or older but not a U.S. citizen (e.g. an international university student), consuming or possessing cannabis is not permitted and can have serious consequences on your immigration status.

Effects of cannabis on youth

Using cannabis regularly in your teens and early 20s may lead to physical changes in your brain. Cannabis can harm a young person’s memory and ability to learn and pay attention.  Some studies suggest a permanent impact as well. These harmful effects may make it harder for youth to achieve their educational and professional goals and impact how successful they are in life.  Cannabis use also increases the risk for anxiety, depression, suicide and schizophrenia as well as substance use or abuse.

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