For many, 2018 was greeted with a New Year’s toke instead of a drink thanks to the newly legal status of cannabis in many states. For some in California, it also meant the first chance to purchase cannabis legally through a licensed retail dispensary. However, because many cities haven’t gotten their local regulations put in place, there are very few places with their doors open to recreational consumers.
This includes two of major cities: Los Angeles and San Francisco, which are expected to see very high numbers of sales once they are up and running. On the other hand, San Diego – as well as Santa Cruz, and some smaller cities in the San Francisco Bay and Palm Springs areas – have already moved forward with their regulations and make up the state’s 90 businesses to receive licenses by New Year’s Day.
“This is what a lot of activists in the industry have been working for since the 1990s when Dennis Peron opened his first marijuana shop for AIDS patients in San Francisco,” said Senn, 32, of Urbn Leaf in San Diego. “It’s a monumental moment and we are ecstatic to be a part of it.”
While those cities rake in the sales, or prepare to, others like Bakersfield and Riverside have decided not to allow the recreational sales of cannabis within their city limits. However, residents can still go to another city to purchase cannabis, or grow up to six plants in their home thanks to Proposition 64, which made all of this possible when voters passed it in November 2016.
“We’re thrilled,” said Khalil Moutawakkil, founder of KindPeoples, which grows and sells weed in Santa Cruz. “We can talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of the specific regulations, but at the end of the day it’s a giant step forward, and we’ll have to work out the kinks as we go.”
The one thing that may cause illegal sales of cannabis to continue in the state is the high rate at which the plant is taxed. If it is still cheaper to buy product off of illegal dealers, then they will remain in business for a while longer. This, among many other issues, will be something lawmakers must focus on in the coming months to ensure legalization works the way its meant to, which is to ensure the safe sale of marijuana by forcing out the black market.
Over the coming months, we will see many changes as regulations go into full effect – and even though there are other states to model the laws after, it will still take time to get things running smoothly. In the meantime, what better way to start off a new year than with one more state putting prohibition behind them for good?