New Year’s Day was good news to stoners as it came with broad legalization of weed, a much-awaited chance that came 20 years after the state was the first in the US to legalize use of weed for medical purposes.
The nation’s biggest economy and the sixth worldwide, has joined Washington and other states that have legalized use of pot for recreational purposes despite the federal government classifying it as a controlled substance.
Weed is now legal in California for individuals 21 years of age and older and any willing individual can grow six plants, and buy and possess up to an ounce of weed from marijuana dispensaries near me.
If you want to start smoking pot right away, you may not be able as some locations are yet to finalize the process of legalization. Right now, roughly 90 stores are licensed to sell weed. Most of the stores are clustered around a few areas.
You may not be lucky enough if you live in San Francisco and Los Angeles as these municipalities haven’t been approved to start issuing the city licenses to businesses that want state permits. The recreational pot law requires businesses to get local licenses before applying for state license, which means no business in these areas has obtained permits to sell weed.
If you are a stoner living in Anaheim, Fresno, Riverside, or Bakersfield you might be way too unlucky as these communities have adopted laws that forbid recreational pot sales. Long Beach has a temporary recreational weed ban.
A few minutes past midnight, a number of Californians raised blunts to celebrate this milestone.
State Senator Nancy Skinner and Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the city as it began selling recreational pot legally. Customers began queuing before dawn of New Year’s Day outside Berkeley Patients Group, one of the oldest marijuana dispensaries in the nation. As well, there was a long queue of pot customers at Oakland’s Harborside dispensary.
Not everybody is happy with this change, for instance, California Police Chiefs Association has always been against the legalization of pot, saying it will cause many problems including people smoking weed and driving, high risk of abuse by young people as it is very appealing to them, and adding the cost of policing recreational pot to existing black market policing problems.
Initially, weed shops will be allowed to sell pot harvested without passing all regulatory controls. But eventually, regulators will extensively test the product for contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides, and potency. Also, stricter measures will come into place, such as a program to track all marijuana from growth to sale, as well other added protections such as childproof containers.
Jamie Garzot, who founded 530 Cannabis shop in Shasta Lake, said she fears that when the crop will dry up, there will be shortage of weed that meets all requirements, as most of her supply comes from unlicensed sources. While her outlet is close marijuana-rich areas, most of the surrounding counties will not allow growing that could supply her.
California is the leading provider of weed in the US. In 2016, it produced around £3.5 million of weed, and 80 percent of this was illegally exported, as reported by ERA Economics, which provides environmental and agricultural consultancy services. Of the 20 percent that remained, only a quarter was sold through legal channels such as marijuana dispensaries. Illegal weed is a serious problem in this state.
Experts predict that the black market will still dominate the industry as fees and tax will raise the cost of retail weed by up 70 percent.