CALIFORNIA GONE TO POT
Recreational Weed on New Year's Day, what happened, what will happen and what could happen in 2018.
Cali Weed is Legal and since 7 am on Jan 1, 2018, when any Californian adult could buy pot legally. The state and municipal governments are starting to fill their coffers, with taxes of up to $85 per ounce. Medical marijuana card holders will however be exempt from paying much of that tax.
2017 ended on a “high”. Happy New Year, they yelled at precisely 6 a.m. as a cashier rang up the cost of three joints, a $45.37 purchase, representing one of the first Rec.cannabis sales in the California.
"Recreational clients must pay sales tax, unlike those with a state-authorized medical identification card. In addition, cities can choose to impose local cannabis taxes."
Customers lined up to be among the first ever to buy legal Rec.cannabis in California.
People have been waiting their whole life for this. Californians can now go to a store and buy cannabis, since 7 a.m. New Year’s Day, 2018.
Many recreational users gladly pay the extra $75 per ounce. Meanwhile, medical patients could always go to the dispensary legally, and now they are further blessed by being tax exempt. Their medical marijuana card will save them, depending on consumption rate, one, two thousand or more dollars per year.
The state banned "loco-weed" in 1913, the first attempt to undo that by voter initiative in 1972 failed, but three years later felony possession of less than an ounce was downgraded to a misdemeanor. In 1996, over the objections of Feds, California voters approved cannabis for medicinal purposes. Twenty years later, voters approved legal Rec.use and gave the state a year to write regulations for a legal market that would open in 2018.
Today, 29 states have adopted medical cannabis laws. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize Rec.cannabis. Since then, five more states have passed Rec.cannabis laws, including Massachusetts, where retail sales are scheduled to begin in July.
Urbn Leaf Dispensary of San Diego was among the very first to get a state-issued license to sell weed for medical and Rec.uses. They hired fifteen more workers to accommodate what was expected to be a rush of new clients to flood into his shop, which had previously specialized in cannabis for medicinal purposes.
The KindPeoples Collective in Santa Cruz gave out T-shirts to the first 420 people who show up to buy weed Monday.
“This is essentially going to eliminate the prohibition on the plant of the last 400 years and return the plant back to the people,” - CEO Khalil Moutawakkil
Weed shops aren't going to be on every corner. In recent weeks, hundreds of businesses have applied for temporary licenses, but its going to be a slow rollout as most cities in California are sitting on most of the approvals, seemingly waiting for the smoke to clear. l . As of New Year's Day, only 49 retail licenses had been issued by the state for businesses to sell Rec.pot.
Sales for Rec.use is allowed in Los Angeles, West Hollywood, San Francisco, San Diego, Oakland, Santa Cruz and San Jose, but many proposed weed shops still lack a license.
At least 300 other cities, including Riverside, Fresno, Bakersfield, Pasadena and Anaheim, won't be allowing Rec. weed sales for non-medical purposes.
The new Recreational marijuana use law was voted in November 2016, under Proposition 64 with an 57% approval rate. California one of eight states to approve the sale of cannabis for Rec.use. Those 21 and older can purchase and possess up to an ounce of cannabis and grow up to six plants in their homes.
There are still restrictions on when the drug-herb: regulations prohibit smoking cannabis public, including restaurants and theaters, anywhere cigarettes are barred. Smoking weed and driving is a no-no. Insurance companies and hospitals can still discriminate against weed users to disallow coverage /service. Employers can still fire you for failing a drug test (THC). And marijuana is still illegal at federal facilities and lands in California. Toking and driving can get you a DUI, in the same way alcohol can get you busted.
To buy weed, customers must show proof of age and to pay in cash, because banks are not allowed to deal in "green businesses."
Interestingly , a pre-election survey in 2016 found 25% of California voters smoke cannabis for Rec.purposes at any time and only 18% are active. 2% of users said that they would likely consume more weed now it is legal.
Mr. Poel, 58, who entered the cannabis business after spending 25 years as an environmental scientist said:
“I had better feelings about it until I saw the fees and taxes, that would be the 15% excise tax on retail sales, county sales tax of up to 8.5% (waived for medical card holders), the $1,000 application fee and taxes on growers - $9.25 per dry-weight ounce of cannabis flowers, and $2.75 per dry-weight ounce of cannabis leaves."
“We’re a small town and we’re in the middle of the Emerald Triangle, so there is a lot of black market availability up here, the Emerald Triangle is the area made up of the counties of Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity in Northern California that has long produced most of the state’s cannabis. Unfortunately, what the state did is they made the taxes and fees so ridiculously high that it’s going to drive the prices up 50% to 100%, if you tax something too much it creates a black market, but we already have a huge one.”
It is predicted that many growers will continue to supply the black market, where they can get more for their crop than in the heavily taxed and regulated legal market. Poel reflected his excitement that many in the industry feel over a change in state law despite the fact that cannabis remains designated as a Schedule 1 drug in the same class as heroin, under federal law. U.S. The compromised Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions has made clear he opposes the sale of cannabis anywhere, but he has not yet overturned an Obama administration policy that has allowed sales for medical and recreational use to continue in states that have declared cannabis to be legal.
“I am happy because it’s time, It’s a safe drug. It’s got a lot of health benefits. This is a big step, but the federal government has to figure out their deal and do what they’ve got to do to get it off Schedule 1.”
"This is something we've all been waiting for, It is something that can help so many people and there's no reason why we should not be sharing that." - Poel
Hernandez said he hoped the legalization of Rec.cannabis would help alleviate the remaining stigma some still believe surrounds cannabis use.
"People might actually realize weed isn't bad. It helps a lot of people."
Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin and state Sen. Nancy Skinner was on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony as his city began selling cannabis legally. Customers began lining up before dawn Monday outside Berkeley Patients Group, one of the oldest dispensaries in the nation. A big crowd also gathered at Harborside dispensary in nearby Oakland.
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 that those businesses can continue to legally sell medicinal cannabis 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.
"We are trying to continue to provide patient access," said Kiloh, who owns a dispensary in the city's San Fernando Valley area. With the new licensing system stalled in Los Angeles "my patients are scared, my employees are scared."
Even with other states as models, the next year is expected to be a bumpy one in California as more shops open and more stringent regulations take effect on the strains known as Sweet Skunk, Trainwreck and Russian Assassin.
The California Police Chiefs Association, which opposed the 2016 ballot measure, remains concerned about stoned drivers, the risk to young people and the cost of policing the new rules in addition to an existing black market.
"There's going to be a public-health cost and a public-safety cost enforcing these new laws and regulations It remains to be seen if this can balance itself out."
At first, weed shops will be able to sell cannabis harvested without full regulatory control. In time, the state will require extensive testing for potency, pesticides and other contaminants. A program to track all weed from seed to sale will be phased in, along with other protections such as childproof containers.
When the current crop dries up, there could be a shortage of cannabis that meets state regulations in some areas.
"Playing in the gray market is not an option, California produces more cannabis than any state in the nation, but going forward, if it's not from a state-licensed source, I can't put it on my shelf. If I choose to do so, I run the risk of losing my license." - Garzot
In 2016, the state produced an estimated 13.5 million pounds of pot, and 80 percent was illegally shipped out of state, the remaining 20 percent, a quarter was sold legally for medicinal purposes.
That robust black market is expected to continue to thrive, particularly as taxes and fees raise the cost of retail weed by as much as 70 percent.
Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin and Democratic state Sen. Nancy Skinner joined a couple dozen people outside the Berkeley Patients Group waiting for the first sales.
“I’m stoked about this historic moment not just for Berkeley, but for the state of California. This is a long time coming.”
The first buyers were Chris Conrad and Mikki Norris, longtime cannabis advocates who purchased the three joints as the crowd cheered. The couple had worked to on the cannabis effort for over two decades, pushed by their belief that its legalization is an issue that expands to social justice, civil rights and health care.
“When we started, George Bush the first was president, Zero tolerance was the policy of this country.”
“We waited a long time for this.”
Harborside, Purple Heart and Blum in Oakland; Berkeley Patients Group and Cannabis Buyers Club of Berkeley; 7 Stars Holistic Healing Center in Richmond; Mercy Wellness in Cotati; and SPARC and Solful in Sebastopol. Statewide, more than 400 shops have licenses to sell commercial cannabis.
“This marks the welcome end of a century of prohibition - 104 years to be accurate, It’s wonderful that people aren’t being imprisoned for cannabis the way they used to be.”
Purple Hearts dispensary in Oakland featured a diverse array of people stream through the doors, including a well-coiffed senior citizen in a bright green windbreaker along with a 20-something man in workout gear and a bike helmet.
“This used to be the only job you could go to work and go to jail the same day,”
“Cannabis is bringing industry to Oakland, it’s bringing jobs, it’s bringing tourism, it’s an epic day.”
Stephenson predicted that California’s cannabis industry would reflect that state’s tastes, offering buyers artisanal products akin to cold-press olive oil or individualized drip coffee.
“We’re willing to pay for quality, We are epicureans.”
While Oakland and Berkeley were among the first to authorize Rec.cannabis,
San Francisco had in-fighting among the city’s supervisors which stalled Rec.permits until Jan. 6.
At some shops, the coming-out party featured live music, coffee and doughnuts, prizes for those first in line and speeches from supportive local politicians.
“I feel like it’s been a struggle and a fight, it’s historic.”
Adults 21 or older to possess and transport up to one ounce of cannabis flower, up to eight grams of extract or infused foods.
Medical cannabis will continue to be available through existing dispensaries to those with a valid I.D. and a doctor’s recommendation.
Monday morning, all clients buying cannabis products paid a 15 percent state excise tax, which is expected to eventually bring in at least $1 billion or more a year into government coffers, to be spent on cannabis research, addiction prevention and law enforcement, and health and welfare..
In Oakland, taxes will increase from 14.25 percent to 34.25 percent.
Long lines of clients were willing to pay up Monday.
Anthony Moraga spent $120 on 3.5 grams of top-shelf buds, and another $32 in taxes, at Berkeley Patients Group.
“It’s the first time we can out come out in public, paying taxes on our legal purchase.”
CNN News fixture handled joints at a “paint and puff” party and even lit a gas mask bong for one reveler, giving the Sunshine State a glimpse of its future,
“I just want to point out, that this is all legal in Colorado,” Anderson Cooper
While Kaye did not appear to partake in any drug use herself, Twitter users provided commentary as she rode a weed bus, which took revelers to various pot-related stops, including a cannabis grow house.
Our society is doomed… Randi Kaye is presumably smoking weed on live tv at a Pot & Paint party in Denver to celebrate legalized Rec.cannabis…
“It’s a monumental moment and we are ecstatic to be a part of it.”
The first license for the retail sale of Rec.weed was issued to Torrey Holistics in San Diego.
“This is a once in a multi-generational event, like the end of prohibition of alcohol in 1933."