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San Francisco bans tobacco smoking inside apartments; pot smoking still allowed

Possessing small amounts of illicit drugs will no longer mean jail time in Oregon, and four other states legalized recreational marijuana on Election Day. USA TODAY

SAN FRANCISCO – City officials in San Francisco have banned all tobacco smoking inside apartments, citing concerns about secondhand smoke. But lighting up a joint inside? That’s still allowed.

The Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 Tuesday to approve the ordinance making San Francisco the largest city in the country to ban tobacco smoking inside apartments, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The original proposal sought to ban residents from smoking marijuana in their apartments, but supervisors voted to exclude marijuana after cannabis activists said the law would take away their only legal place to smoke. It’s illegal under state law to smoke cannabis in public places.

“Unlike tobacco smokers who could still leave their apartments to step out to the curb or smoke in other permitted outdoor smoking areas, cannabis users would have no such legal alternatives,” said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who wrote the amendment to exempt cannabis.

San Francisco now joins 63 California cities and counties with such a ban.

Those against the ban argued that it infringed on their rights inside their homes. Supporters said it’s important to protect the health of nonsmokers – particularly low-income residents who live in dense apartment buildings.

Cigarette smoking kills more than 480,000 people per year in the United States, including more than 41,000 deaths caused by exposure to secondhand smoke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Department of Public Health will be responsible for enforcing the new law. Under the ordinance, the department must first try to educate violators and help smokers quit. Repeat offenders could be fined $1,000 a day but can not be evicted for a smoking violation.

The ordinance must pass a second vote of the board next week and the mayor must sign it. Once that happens, the new law would go into effect 30 days later.

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San Francisco banned tobacco smoking inside apartments, citing concerns about secondhand smoke. But lighting up a joint inside? That’s still allowed.

Know your rights as a cannabis consumer

Rules about buying and using cannabis in San Francisco.

It is legal in California to buy and use cannabis if you are 21 or older. But, like tobacco and alcohol, there are laws that you need to follow.

Buying, selling and growing cannabis in San Francisco

You can only buy cannabis from licensed retailers.

Adults can buy and carry:

  • Up to 1 ounce (28.5 grams) of cannabis
  • Up to 8 grams of concentrated cannabis

You can only sell cannabis if you have a Retail Cannabis Permit from San Francisco and a license from California.

You can grow up to 6 cannabis plants in your home or in a locked and enclosed yard. It must not be visible to the public, and the property owner must approve.

If you have a Medical Marijuana ID card, you can buy, carry, and grow more.

Securing your cannabis

You must lock up cannabis and cannabis products away from children and pets.

Cannabis for medical use

To buy medical cannabis, you need a Medical Marijuana ID card or a doctor’s recommendation. You do not pay sales tax if you buy cannabis with a Medical Marijuana ID card.

  • Grow up to 12 cannabis plants for your own use
  • Buy up to 8 ounces of flower

You can buy even more than 8 ounces if your doctor recommends it.

Using cannabis in San Francisco

You cannot smoke, eat, vape, or use cannabis:

  • In public places, like parks and sidewalks
  • Near schools or anywhere with children (you can’t even carry cannabis at places like day care centers)
  • Inside most buildings, like workplaces, restaurants and bars, entertainment venues, and the common areas of multi-unit housing
  • At outdoor public events like music festivals, street fairs and parades

Generally, you cannot smoke or vape cannabis in places where you cannot smoke tobacco.

You can use cannabis in private homes if the owner allows it.

You can consume cannabis in a dispensary that has a consumption lounge.

Driving

Driving under the influence of cannabis is illegal and you can be arrested, fined, and have your license suspended.

You cannot drive or ride in a vehicle with an open container of cannabis. Cannabis must be sealed or kept in the trunk.

Cannabis at work

Employers can still:

  • Have a drug and alcohol-free workplace
  • Require drug tests for employees
  • Turn you down for a job because you use cannabis
  • Fire you, demote you, or take other action against you for using cannabis

Federal law

Cannabis is still considered an illegal drug by the federal government. You can be arrested or prosecuted for buying or using cannabis on federal land.

Many places in California are policed by federal authorities. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Airports
  • National parks
  • Federal buildings
  • Military installations

Immigration status

If you are not a US citizen, using cannabis or working in the cannabis industry can hurt your immigration status. You should get legal advice before leaving the United States or applying for naturalization.

Rules about buying and using cannabis in San Francisco.