Marijuana’s legal tomorrow but good luck finding a place to light up

A scene from Cheech and Chong's 1978 movie "Up In Smoke."

Daily Post Staff Writer

Residents will be able to buy recreational marijuana under a new state law that takes effect tomorrow (Jan. 1) but if they light up as they leave a pot shop, they could get hit with a fine.

Pot smokers will face the same tough restrictions that cigarette smokers in the state now confront. If they violate the smoking bans, adults risk a fine ranging from $100 to $250.

State law generally prohibits smoking pot in public places. However, a city can designate certain places to smoke pot. And while you may not be able to smoke in most public places, in some cities on the Mid-Peninsula, you also won’t even be able to light up in your apartment.

Belmont, Palo Alto, San Mateo, Burlingame and Redwood City have all banned people from smoking in apartment complexes and other types of housing (such as condominiums) where walls or ceilings are shared with other homes.

So residents of those cities, as well as any others that have bans on smoking in apartment buildings, cannot smoke pot in their homes, but can ingest it by way of edibles.

Nearly all cities on the Mid-Peninsula except for Woodside and Mountain View have completely banned all smoking in parks and other public recreation areas, according to the American Lung Association.

Along with local prohibitions on smoking either pot or tobacco in public, the state also has regulations on where people can light up.

It bans smoking within 1,000 feet of a school, day care center and youth center while children are present.

It is also illegal to smoke or ingest marijuana while driving or in the passenger seat of a car, boat, aircraft or any other vehicle used for transit.

The safest way to avoid getting hit with a fine on the Mid-Peninsula while trying to smoke is to do it in a single-family home or in a parked car, according to a memo from San Mateo City Attorney Shawn Mason on marijuana in the city.

A general rule of thumb for smoking pot is if you can’t smoke tobacco there, you cannot smoke marijuana there either.