At 6 a.m. this morning, several dispensaries across the state opened their doors for a historic occasion. Twenty-one years after California passed Proposition 215 and became the first state in America to legalize medical marijuana, 30 years after Dennis Peron was first busted for distributing marijuana in San Francisco and 40 years after The Grateful Dead had their Haight-Ashbury home raided for cannabis, California’s recreational marijuana industry opens retail sales to adults.
California’s recreational industry might not be shaping up to resemble quite what those early medical marijuana advocates hoped for, with massive investment funds entering the industry, lobbyists pushing regulations against small farmers and former cannabis dealers finding themselves without amnesty in federal prisons. Still, New Year’s Day 2018 is an unprecedented moment for cannabis legalization, as the day witnesses the removal of barriers for 30 million California citizens over the age of 21 to access legal cannabis, as well as the public debut of industry that is anticipated to gross over $1 billion dollars in tax revenue for the state.
Over 40 dispensaries from San Diego to Mount Shasta have received temporary retail licenses from state and local governments to begin distributing cannabis on Jan. 1, and many will hold special events to commemorate the day. Two in particular, Harborside in Oakland and Berkeley Patients Group, are opening at 6 a.m. in an effort to be the first to sales. At BPG, the city’s mayor plans to cut a ribbon in front of the dispensary. In Oakland, the Purple Heart Patient Center will be giving out free tacos. And in Santa Cruz, KindPeoples said they will be handing out free T-shirts to their first 420 customers.
“We are incredibly grateful and honored to be granted the first licenses in the state of California,” said KindPeoples Director Khalil Moutawakkil. “We look forward to serving every adult on Jan. 1, and we thank the city and county of Santa Cruz, as well as the Bureau of Cannabis Control for their efforts to make this process as streamlined as possible.”
As 2018 rolls forward, the State of California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control will continue to issue licenses to the full range of cannabis companies, including manufacturers, distributors and laboratories.
Many cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, have yet to license dispensaries for retail sales, so city legislators in those cities will continue to work in 2018 toward establishing their legal cannabis framework.
For now, only medical marijuana patients are able to purchase cannabis as usual in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and they must use a state-issued medical ID if they wish to be excused from the state sales tax on cannabis. Everyone else in LA and SF will have to drive out of their way for the New Year’s celebration.
The Jan. 1 start-date for legal sales in California is due to language in the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, also known as Proposition 64, which California voters passed in the November 2016 election. The AUMA prohibited the sale of recreational cannabis until January 2018, in order to give legislators on both the state and local levels time to establish regulations and issue licenses. By November, the state had begun to issue its first production licenses, and by Dec. 14, the first handful of dispensaries had received their temporary retail licenses from the state.
In fact, all of the dispensary opening on Jan. 1 are operating with temporary licenses, which will only be valid for 120 days, as California’s current regulations are solidified. The state is now entering a period of uncertainty until July 1, during which some of the state rules are flexible, such as the ability to sell edibles over the new legal THC limit (with an appropriate sticker) and selling cannabis goods without regulated child-proof packaging.
So, this New Year’s, Cannabis Now recommends spending time with loved ones, resting for the year ahead — and working to make sure that California’s marijuana industry develops in a direction that would make the state’s early activists proud.
TELL US, what are your plans for New Year’s Day?