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Pot is Legal in California

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Come January 1, 2018, pot will be legal for adult-use in California. As a result of the passing of Proposition 64, the state will be opening its dispensaries to the general public.

California Legalizes Pot

The fact that marijuana will be legal in California is something that even state regulators are excited for.

“I know this sounds crazy, but we’re looking forward to Jan. 1,” said Lori Ajax. Ajax is head of California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), the agency in charge of licensing dispensaries and some other cannabis businesses. “This is what we’ve been waiting for, what we’ve been training for,” she said. “It’s time.”

Regarding of if you have been using marijuana for a while or if you are just curious about trying it, here is some information regarding the new laws that will go into effect on January 1:

Will you be able walk into a California dispensary on Jan. 1 to buy pot?

The short answer is “yes” if you’re over 21 and the dispensary has a temporary license from the state.

The state of California will be handing out temporary licenses to dispensaries that are seeking to sell recreational marijuana even before regulations go live on January 1.

The Bureau of Cannabis Control’s online application system will be open in December. At that point the BCC will begin emailing temporary licenses to retailers. Those licenses will become valid on Jan. 1 but recreational customers won’t be able to buy pot at the stroke of midnight.

Instead, customers will have to wait another 6 hours. This is because the state law mandates that retailers can only sell or deliver cannabis between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Where will you be able to buy pot in California?

It’s dependent on where you live. “There’s only a handful of cities that are embracing it,” said Jason Elsasser, a marijuana industry advocate located in Desert Hot Springs.

Oakland and some of Desert Hot Springs’ neighboring communities within the Coachella Valley are among relatively few cities that have formed recreational marijuana rules ahead of Jan. 1.

Additionally, areas around Sacramento and San Jose are still considering opening up adult-use cannabis sales and some parts of the state are even doubling down on opposition to the sale of marijuana. Kern County and Shasta County have even voted against use.

Where are you able to smoke marijuana in California?

A good rule of thumb across the state is that you can’t smoke pot anywhere they can’t smoke a cigarette. You cannot smoke in indoor places, including bars, cars, or other moving vehicles. Having an open bag in the car is illegal. If you are renting, you will need to check with your landlord to see if smoking is allowed inside your rental property.

Prop 64 does however open the door for local governments to permit marijuana consumption at retailers and companies with a microbusiness license, which combines a small cultivation site, distribution and retail. In that case, the business will be required to restrict the premises to people 21 and older, cannot allow alcohol or tobacco use on site and also must ensure no one can see people consuming marijuana from outside.

Will all California medicinal dispensaries be recreational?

No.

Not every dispensary currently open will be granted a temporary or annual license to sell recreational pot. To be eligible to receive a temporary license, retailers will need to demonstrate to the BCC that they have permission to operate from their home city.

“The main thing is, they have to have that local approval,” Ajax said.

Once dispensaries have the proper paperwork the BCC can go back to the city to check that it’s valid.

Second, dispensaries already selling medicinal marijuana can choose whether they want a medicinal license, an adult-use license or both. In this instance the shop will need to adequately label merchandise “A” for adult or “M” for medicinal and keep separate transaction records.

Can you try before you buy?

Yes and no.

Once the adult-use market has gone live, practices such as smelling the marijuana before buying it will need to be reconsidered by the dispensaries.

Customers are still free to inspect any potential pot purchase with the supervision of an employee, but dispensaries will be required to discard any marijuana product employees remove from its original packaging. Only product in tamper evident, child resistant packaging is allowed to be sold.

“It’s no longer going to be taking the bud out of a used pickle jar and letting the patient sniff it and get their nastys all over it if they sneeze,” said John Chaisson, the co-owner of Atomic Budz in Cathedral City.

With few exceptions, marijuana freebies are prohibited by law.

Are there quality controls for pot in California?

Yes. State law requires new testing procedures including testing samples for things like mold, pesticide residue and bacteria. This testing will need to be done before any product ships. Labs will also check for compounds like CBD and THC, two of the cannabinoids found in marijuana. Products must be labeled to show weight as well as THC and CBD content.

“Everything is going to have to be tested by a third party and a lot of people are not going to be able to get through that,” Chaisson said.

What happens to pot products already in existence and available before Jan. 1?

With a temporary license, retailers will be able to sell off inventory in existence before 2018. The temporary license lasts 120 days with the option for extensions. Because of this, customers might still be able to buy products that have not been tested or that otherwise appear to violate state law. For example, because pot gummy bears are “appealing to children” they are in violation of state law.

Will there be any noticeable changes at California pot shops?

“Things are not really going to change that drastically on Jan. 1 (for consumers),” Elsasser said. “There’s going to be a lot of people turning in their applications to the state of California… but that’s behind the scenes.”

While there might be some different products available, the changes will most likely be subtle. For example, some dispensaries might need to invest in security cameras and alarm systems to stay compliant with state law or they might start requiring employees to wear a new ID badge.

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