Public cannabis consumption might be a controversial topic, but Californians may be pleased to learn that Governor Jerry Brown recently vetoed a pair of bills that would have banned smoking or vaping on beaches or at parks. While that’s good news for some, don’t get too excited. Public consumption of weed is still illegal. It can be confusing, so let’s take a closer look.
In his veto letter, Governor Brown asked: “If people can’t even smoke on a deserted beach, where can they?” He explained how last year, he vetoed a similar measure, Senate Bill 1333, because he “believed that such a far-reaching prohibition in every state park and on every state beach was too broad.” He also thought the fine was excessive: “over $250, after the mandatory assessments.”
Those who supported this most recent bill claimed to have environmental concerns in mind. “This bill would reduce the serious health hazards posed by smoking — to people and wildlife — in our state parks and beaches,” said California state Senator Steve Glazer, a Democrat from Orinda. “It would reduce fire hazards and litter and the costs for those now borne by the public.”
Other supporters of the bill believed it would reduce secondhand smoke and prevent wildfires. Among the bill’s advocates were groups like the California Fire Chiefs Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and Save the Bay.
As applied, the pair of bills cover both cannabis and tobacco cigarettes and vapes — and apparently, cigarette butts are the greatest source of environmental litter, especially along the coast.
So as it stands now, Governor Brown’s veto means that people can still smoke or vape tobacco at parks and beaches, so long as doing so is in accordance with local code and policies. That doesn’t necessarily mean cannabis is allowed, though — since public consumption of cannabis is still banned under state law.
Still, the veto is good news for cannabis advocates. If Governor Brown hadn’t vetoed the bills, increased law enforcement patrolling smokers would have been bad news for cannabis consumers.