Pot Now Legal in California, but It's Not That Simple

'Broad confusion' over licensing, city mandates on recreational marijuana sales
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 1, 2018 1:30 PM CST
Sally Sanchez calls for the next customer at the Harborside marijuana dispensary on Monday in Oakland, Calif.   (AP Photo/Mathew Sumner)
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(Newser) – While the world welcomed 2018, residents in California had an extra reason to celebrate the new year's arrival. At 12:01am, marijuana received broad legalization in the Golden State, two decades after California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana, the AP reports. So-called recreational pot is now legal for adults 21 and older. Individuals can grow up to six plants and possess as much as an ounce. Customers who lined up early to purchase recreational marijuana legally for the first time in California say they're happy cannabis is now regulated, including Jeff Deakin, who waited all night outside Oakland's Harborside dispensary with his wife and dog. The 66-year-old, who was there for the store's opening at 6am with about 100 other people, says it's a big deal that they can buy cannabis while feeling safe and secure, without having to make the purchase in a back alley.

Finding a retail outlet to buy non-medical pot in California won't be easy, though, at least initially. Only about 90 businesses received state licenses to open on New Year's Day, concentrated in San Diego, Santa Cruz, the San Francisco Bay Area, and the Palm Springs area. Los Angeles and San Francisco are among the many cities where recreational pot won't be available right away; other places, including Fresno, Bakersfield, and Kern County, outlawed recreational pot sales. Attorneys advising a group of LA dispensaries have concluded those businesses can continue to legally sell medicinal marijuana as "collectives" until they obtain local and state licenses under California's new system, though LA officials announced last month the city won't begin accepting license applications until Jan. 3—and it might take weeks before any are issued.

(Read more marijuana legalization stories.)

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