As of January 1, California went full cannabis legal. Anyone 21 and over can now legally possess up to a an ounce of marijuana, grow their own, and sell it in limited quantities, just so long as they have the right license. And maybe now California will be called “The Golden State” not for the rocks we dug up a couple hundred years ago, but for the color of our sweet wax and shatter.
But it’s not, unfortunately, like everyone and their mother is out dancing in the street with a jay in one hand and an oil rig in the other. While many consumers and purveyors are smiling at the dawning of a new era in California bud, there’s still a hell of a lot of confusion and doubt when it comes to the new system. But first, the good news:
California recorded its first legal sale of recreational marijuana at 6 am on January 1, 2018. The historic site of the deed was Harborside in Oakland. They kicked off the New Year with some of the same eye-popping sales you can find around the state: $150 for an ounce of flower, $20 for a gram of shatter. It was an all around an occasion to celebrate.
It also appears as if some state government bureaucrats were actually going the extra mile to help cannabis businesses over the holiday weekend preceding the New Year. In an exhaustive and well-edited compendium of 2018 California cannabis news, Leafly noted a report from one pot shop owner in Sacramento.
As of just a few days ago, Kimberly Cargile was freaking out because she still hadn’t still heard back about her retail license application. It wasn’t until she got an inside number from a friend, which directed her to the Bureau of Cannabis. They told her that Cargile’s license had been approved as of 10 am Friday morning. It sucks that nobody told her about it, but Cargile was excited nonetheless. “I didn’t know they were working through the weekend,” she said.
“This is an historic day for the state of California,” Bureau of Cannabis Control Chief Lori Ajax said in a statement. “It marks the beginning of a legal cannabis marketplace that will be well regulated in order to protect consumers and maintain a level playing field for cannabis-related businesses. We are hopeful that we have put forth a model that other states will look to as an example when they head down the path to legalization.”
The good news is that hundreds of pot shops have so far been licensed by the state. The bad news is that hundreds of pot shops have been licensed by the state. Only a little more than 400 businesses are now licensed to sell recreational cannabis in California. As of 2016, there were more than 750,000 medical marijuana patients in the state. Considering that a whole lot of new consumers are going to be added to the list of legal cannabis customers, that means that every pot shop has to serve about 2,000 customers. In LA, only 135 medical marijuana dispensaries have been designated responsible operators with “limited immunity” from law enforcement, though they have no official licenses.
Given that, it’s no surprise that some vendors are already fearing a cannabis shortage, as demand is surging following the new sales law, and MMJ providers were forced to toss out some of their stock. Many cannabis products previously allowed are no longer compliant now that the new laws have set in.
So far, the state says it has received more than 1,800 applications for cannabis businesses. And that doesn’t even include cannabis manufacturers and cultivators, which are licensed by the Department of Public Health and Department of Food and Agriculture.
Photo via Flickr user Dank Depot