Voters in Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana in November 2012. Both states only permit personal recreational use of marijuana by adults 21 or older.
Colorado was able to implement legal retail marijuana shops since January 1, 2014.
Washington was slower to license recreational marijuana shops and started issuing licenses in July 2014.
Other states have since followed their lead, including California and Massachusetts (both in 2016).
Basically, the legalization of marijuana means you can’t be arrested, ticketed, or convicted for using marijuana if you follow the state laws as to age, place, and amount for consumption. However, you can still get arrested for selling or trafficking marijuana if you aren’t following state laws on licensure and taxation.
The new year in California brought with it broad legalization of marijuana, a highly-anticipated change that comes two decades after the state was the first to allow pot for medical use.
Pot is now legal in California for adults 21 and older .Individuals can grow up to six plants and possess as much as an ounce of the drug.
Well, its not easy to buy a non medical pot through a retail outlet as only 90 businesses received state licenses to open on New Year’s Day basically concentrated in San Diego, Santa Cruz, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Palm Springs area.
Johnny Hernandez, a tattoo artist from Modesto, celebrated New Year’s Eve by smoking “Happy New Year blunts” with his cousins.
“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.”
Hernandez said he hoped the legalization of recreational marijuana would help alleviate the remaining stigma some still believe surrounds marijuana use.
“People might actually realize weed isn’t bad. It helps a lot of people.”
The state banned “loco-weed” in 1913, for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the pot advocacy group named as NORML. 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 evil deed.
In 1996, over the objections of law enforcement, President Clinton’s drug czar and three former presidents, California voters approved marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Twenty years later, voters approved legal recreational 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 marijuana laws.
With other states, the next year is expected to be a irregular 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,” said Jonathan Feldman, a legislative advocate for the chiefs. “It remains to be seen if this can balance itself out.”
At first, pot shops will be able to sell marijuana harvested without full regulatory controls. But eventually, the state will require extensive testing for potency, pesticides and other contaminants. A program to track all pot from seed to sale will be phased in, along with other protections such as childproof containers.
Jamie Garzot, founder of the 530 Cannabis shop in Northern California’s Shasta Lake, said she’s concerned that when the current crop dries up, there will be a shortage of marijuana that meets state regulations. Her outlet happens to be close to some of California’s most productive marijuana-growing areas, but most of the surrounding counties will not allow cultivation that could supply her.
“Playing in the gray market is not an option,” Garzot said. “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.”
That robust black market is expected to continue to thrive on, particularly as taxes and fees raise the cost of retail pot by as much as 70 percent.
Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.