California Launches First Legal Retail Sales of Marijuana




 

(OAKLAND, Calif.) - It wasn't exactly reefer madness Monday as California launched the first legal retail sales of marijuana, but those who could find the drug celebrated the historic day, lining up early for ribbon cuttings, freebies and offerings ranging from joints to gummy bears to weed with names like Red Dragon.

Jeff Deakin, 66, his wife Mary and their dog waited in the cold all night to be first in a line of 100 people when Harborside dispensary, a longtime medical pot shop in Oakland, opened at 6 a.m. and offered early customers joints for a penny and free T-shirts that read "Flower to the People - Cannabis for All."

"It's been so long since others and myself could walk into a place where you could feel safe and secure and be able to get something that was good without having to go to the back alley," Deakin said. "This is kind of a big deal for everybody."

Harborside founder Steve DeAngelo used a giant pair of scissors to cut a green ribbon, declaring, "With these scissors I dub thee free," before ringing up the first customer at a cash register.

Sales were brisk in the shops lucky to score one of the roughly 100 state licenses issued so far, but customers in some of the state's largest cities were out of luck. Los Angeles and San Francisco hadn't authorized shops in time to get state licenses and other cities, such as Riverside and Fresno, blocked sales altogether.

Licensed shops are concentrated in San Diego, Santa Cruz, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Palm Springs area.

California voters in 2016 made it legal for adults 21 and older to grow, possess and use limited quantities of marijuana, but it wasn't legal to sell it for recreational purposes until Monday.

The nation's most populous state now joins a growing list of states, and the nation's capital, where so-called recreational marijuana is permitted even though the federal government continues to classify pot as a controlled substance, like heroin and LSD.

The signs that California was tripping toward legal pot sales were evident well before the stroke of midnight. California highways flashed signs before New Year's Eve that said "Drive high, Get a DUI," reflecting law enforcement concerns about stoned drivers. Weedmaps, the phone app that allows customers to rate shops, delivery services and shows their locations, ran a full-page ad Sunday in the Los Angeles Times that said, "Smile California. It's Legal."

The state banned what it called "loco-weed" in 1913, though it has been easing criminal penalties for use of the drug since the 1970s and was the first state to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes in 1996.

Travis Lund, 34, said he'd been looking forward while working the graveyard shift to buy weed legally for the first time since he began smoking pot as a teen.

"I'm just stoked that it's finally legal," he said after purchasing an eighth of an ounce of "Mount Zion" and another type of loose leaf marijuana at Northstar Holistic Collective in Sacramento, where the fragrance of pot was strong. "I'm going to home and get high - and enjoy it."

Lund previously purchased marijuana on the black market through friends and said that may continue, given the high costs of the legal weed, which is heavily taxed. But he said he would indulge in retail pot occasionally because of controls being phased in to ensure a higher-quality product.

Shops will be able to sell marijuana harvested without full regulatory controls for six months but will eventually only be able to sell pot tested for potency, pesticides and other contaminants, and products that have been tracked from seed to sale.

The Bureau of Cannabis Control was not aware of any problems or complaints about the first day of sales, but it didn't have inspectors in the field, spokesman Alex Traverso said.

Employees at the bureau on the holiday continued to process 1,400 pending license applications for retail sales, distribution and testing facilities.

Traverso said they expect a flood of applications from LA and San Francisco after those are approved locally. Because Los Angeles is the biggest market in the state, some of those shops will be approved more quickly than others waiting in line, he said.

The status of the Los Angeles shops highlights broad confusion over the new law.

Los Angeles officials announced late last month that the city will not begin accepting license applications until Jan. 3, and it might take weeks before any licenses are issued. That led to widespread concern that long-established businesses would have to shut down during the interim.

Attorneys advising a group of city dispensaries have concluded those businesses can legally sell medicinal marijuana as "collectives," until they obtain local and state licenses under the new system, said Jerred Kiloh of the United Cannabis Business Association, an industry group.

It wasn't immediately clear how many of those shops, if any, were open.

"My patients are scared, my employees are scared," said Kiloh, who owns a dispensary in the city's San Fernando Valley area.

In Orange County, shops in Santa Ana received the green light over the weekend to open and a steady flow showed up at ShowGrow.

Ellen St. Peter, 61, shopped with her son, Bryce St. Peter, 23, both medical marijuana users.

She said she smoked pot for years - at times taking great risks to get it - but stopped once she started having kids.

"In high school my guy friends would fantasize about shops we could go into and just buy weed," she said. "I couldn't have dreamed of this place."

COMMENTS

More Related News

Power to the Polls: Women
Power to the Polls: Women's March 2.0 aims to harness Trump opposition
  • US
  • 2018-01-20 14:10:01Z

Tens of thousands of protesters were expected to take to the streets of New York, Los Angeles and Washington on Saturday for the second Women's March, a multi-city mass rally hailed as the start of a new era of female political activism. This year's demonstration is being held in coordination with rallies planned for the weekend in some 250 other cities across the United States and overseas and marks the first anniversary of President Donald Trump's inauguration. "People were pretty damn mad last year and they're pretty damn mad this year," said Tamika Mallory, co-president of the Women's March board.

Is It Game Over for Medical Marijuana in Colorado?
Is It Game Over for Medical Marijuana in Colorado?

Medical marijuana demand is waning.

California couple may have used food to control starving children
California couple may have used food to control starving children
  • US
  • 2018-01-19 17:53:09Z

The California couple accused of beating, shackling and abusing their 13 children may have used starvation as a weapon to control them, experts say, and the malnourishment would likely cause lifelong physical and mental issues for the siblings. The parents, who were charged with multiple counts of torture, child abuse and false imprisonment, gave little food to their children, ranging in age from two to 29 years old, according to prosecutors, who said the abuse may have gone on for years.

The Latest: Neighbors grapple with reports of child torture
The Latest: Neighbors grapple with reports of child torture

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) - The Latest on the torture and abuse case against the parents of 13 children and young adults in California (all times local):

Grisly details as California couple deny torturing children
Grisly details as California couple deny torturing children

A California couple pleaded not guilty Thursday to multiple counts of torture as grisly details emerged of how they allegedly kept their 13 children in locked rooms or chains, allowing them to shower no more than once a year. David Allen Turpin, 57, and his wife Louise Anna Turpin, 49 -- who had registered their home as a school -- were hit with 12 counts of torture, 12 of false imprisonment, six of child abuse and six of abuse of a dependent adult ahead of their court appearance in the city of Riverside. David Turpin was also charged with committing a lewd act against a child by force or fear or duress, District Attorney Mike Hestrin told a press conference.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.