I have a medical marijuana recommendation, and since my apartment is non-smoking I have to smoke outside, which as I understood from my doctor and collective is legal anywhere tobacco is legal. I try my hardest to be discreet by puffing on small side-streets, but the other night, a bit after midnight, an officer pulled over and talked to me. He told me my doctor "is full of shit," but let me walk back into my apartment, which I had told him was a block away. Can you give me any suggestions on how to better avoid harassment from police, and what rights I have they do arrest me or give me a ticket?
Before I answer your question, I want to take a second to make sure we are crystal clear on one issue: possession of marijuana is illegal under Federal law and any advice rendered, applies only to California state law. Before I tell you where you can smoke medical marijuana legally in the state of California, I should start by telling you where you cannot smoke medical marijuana. Under California state law, you cannot smoke medical marijuana in any place where smoking is prohibited by law; in or within 1,000 feet of the grounds of a school, recreation center, or youth center, unless the medical use occurs within a residence; on a school bus; while in a motor vehicle that is being operated; or while operating a boat.
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That being said you are free to smoke in any place that is not described above. Regarding your situation, while you are free to smoke in the side streets, why would you want to? Yes, you can lawfully smoke medical marijuana in public, assuming you are not within 1,000 ft. of a school, recreation center, or youth center. However, expect to have many future conversations with the police because, while your conduct may be legal, it will definitely attract some unwanted attention from the police, who may or may not know what the law is, subjecting you to citation or worse.
Assuming you have 28.5 grams of marijuana or less when you are medicating in public, you can be cited for violating H&S §11357(b), simple possession of marijuana, an infraction offense carrying a $100 fine. While not the crime of the century, or even a crime at all, why needlessly risk subjecting yourself to the criminal justice system to medicate in public? You may be better served looking into vaporizing or consuming your medical marijuana as edibles, in the privacy of your apartment.