When the clock struck midnight this new year, hundreds of new laws went into effect in California. The new laws cover topics ranging from the state’s new recreational marijuana market and the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigrants.
The following are some of the laws which took effect on January 1, 2018:
- Marijuana – While Proposition 64 legalized the recreational use of marijuana on November 2016, retail sales of cannabis were not allowed until January 1, 2018. Now, Californians age 21 and over can purchase up to one ounce of marijuana (28.5 grams) and .28 ounces of concentrates (eight grams) from businesses registered with the state. Another law, SB 65, expands existing laws that control the use of alcohol in vehicles to include the use of marijuana, making it illegal to smoke or ingest cannabis while driving or while riding as a passenger.
- Crimes – Several laws regarding criminal justice have taken effect in 2018. Repeat drug offenders will no longer automatically get an additional three years added to their sentences. Intentionally transmitting HIV (the AIDS-causing virus) is being reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. Videotaping or streaming a crime online is now considered an aggravating factor in sentences for specific violent crimes. Officials must consider paroling inmates who are 60 years of age or older and have served at least 25 years. Existing extortion laws have been expanded to punish those who obtain sexually explicit images of someone and threaten to distribute them unless the victim provides more sexually explicit images or performs sexual acts.
- Juvenile Offenses – State inmates serving life sentences for criminal offenses they committed when they were juveniles will get the opportunity to leave prison after 25 years. Another law expands California’s youthful parole program to age 25. Families of juvenile offenders won’t be charged fees that advocates say many can’t afford to pay.
- Immigration – Local law enforcement authorities are prohibited from communicating with federal immigration agencies about people in custody, except those previously convicted of felonies in the past 15 years. Another law prohibits new contracts between local governments and corporations that run immigration detention centers. Additionally, employers are not allowed to provide federal immigration agents access to nonpublic areas of a work site unless they have a judicial warrant and public academic institutions are prohibited from collecting information about student citizenship or immigration status—including that of their families.
- Firearms – Purchasing ammunition needs to be made in person through an authorized vendor. Although online sales are still allowed, the ammunition needs to be shipped to a licensed vendor. Anyone seeking to transfer ammunition needs to also do it through a licensed dealer.
- Workplace – On January 1, California’s minimum wage increased to $11 per hour for companies with 26 or more employees and to $10.50 an hour for businesses with 25 or fewer employees. When it comes to maternity or paternity leave, new parents get up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave if they work for companies with 20 or more employees. In addition, it protects new parents from losing job and healthcare benefits during the time off. A new law prohibits employers from asking or seeking about a job applicant’s salary history, compensation or benefits, and requires employers to disclose pay scales for the position upon request.
- Health Care – Pharmaceutical companies need to provide advance notice before a surge in prices. It will be illegal to deny admission to long-term care facilities based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
- Education – Under a law that waives the $46 unit fee for one academic year for first-time students, the first year of community college may be free for full-time, in-state students. Students in grades 7-12 need to be taught about sexual abuse and human trafficking prevention. Public schools must test for lead in their water supplies on an annual basis. Schools will be prohibited from “lunch shaming,” or publicly denying lunch to students or providing a snack instead because their parents haven’t paid meal fees. Public middle and high schools with a high percentage of low-income students to provide free feminine hygiene products in half of the school restrooms.