Now legal, recreational marijuana hits stores in California

It has been legal to smoke marijuana in California since a proposition was approved in November 2016, but legal sales for recreation marijuana didn't begin until Monday. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI

Jan. 1 (UPI) — As of Monday, it is now legal to buy marijuana for recreational use in California.

Voters approved Proposition 64 last year, which made marijuana legal in the United States’ most populous state.

It wasn’t until 6 a.m., Monday, though, that people could buy it.

The state Bureau of Cannabis Control so far has awarded retail licenses to 42 dispensaries — though some businesses won’t begin sales until Tuesday. Medical-use marijuana is already legal in California.

California’s recreational pot market is expected toreac $7 billion annually by 2020, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. Governments, naturally, will get a cut of the revenue. The substance is heavily taxed at up 45 percent — including a 15 percent state excise tax, a 7.5 percent sales tax and local taxes.

In Los Angeles County, those who register with the department of health and enroll in the medical marijuana program will be exempted from paying sales tax.

The city of Los Angeles hasn’t yet issued local licenses to pot stores. Shops in West Hollywood won’t open until Tuesday, at the city’s request. Santa Ana’s licensed stores are the closest for Los Angeles residents.

In Northern California, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin and Democratic state Sen. Nancy Skinner appeared outside the Berkeley Patients Group Monday, when sales began at 6 a.m.

“I’m stoked about this historic moment not just for Berkeley but for the state of California,” Arreguin said. “This is a long time coming.”

Chris Conrad and Mikki Norris, longtime marijuana advocates, bought three joints for $45.37 on a substance named after Jack Herer, their friend and now dead marijuana advocate.

The November 2016 proposition decriminalizes marijuana and allows adults 21 and older to possess and transport up to one ounce of cannabis flower, and up to eight grams of extract or infused foods. They are also allowed to grow as many as six plants at home, without a doctor’s letter.

Users are not allowed to smoke pot in public, while driving or where smoking tobacco is prohibited. People cited for smoking marijuana in public can expect a fine between $100 and $250.

The state will not allow marijuana to be sold between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.


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