Puff, Puff, Pass: Marijuana Goes Legit in California Jan. 1

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

The passage of Proposition 64—the Adult Use of Marijuana Act—in California had everyone excited about recreational marijuana becoming legal in the state on Jan. 1. Unfortunately for a lot of smokers, they will still have to rely on medical recommendations for the foreseeable future as cities sort out who can and who cannot sell marijuana legally in the state.


As The Cannifornian notes, at 6 a.m. Monday, Jan. 1, adults with a legal ID showing they are 21 years or older will be able to buy marijuana from licensed shops in much the same way they can buy alcohol from a bar or liquor store.

Not all medical dispensaries will immediately become a source for recreational weed. Cities have the final say on who is able to get a license to sell recreational marijuana, and currently, most cities in the state are not allowing recreational sales.

In Los Angeles, for instance, marijuana businesses will need both local and state approval to sell recreational pot. There is an application process to get approval from the city, and applications from already existing medical marijuana dispensaries will have first priority to file those applications beginning Jan. 3, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Cat Packer, head of Los Angeles’ Department of Cannabis Regulation, told the Times: “We are starting a process. This is something that is not going to happen overnight.”

There are roughly 200 businesses that may currently qualify for the local license, according to Packer’s estimations, and many of them could have temporary approval from the city within three weeks—but they will still need to get a state license to sell.

Some cities near Los Angeles have completely opted out of the recreational-pot business, according to the Times, including Riverside, Fresno, Bakersfield, Pasadena and Anaheim. Sorry, folks. You won’t be able to buy recreational weed to use while you visit the Magic Kingdom in Orange County.


While the city of Los Angeles does not yet have approved recreational marijuana, some dispensaries in West Hollywood are cleared to sell for adult use.

Take note: There are hefty taxes involved when you purchase recreationally. There is a 9.25 percent California state sales tax and a 15 percent state excise tax. To put it in layman’s terms, the top-shelf eighth that you used to get for $50 will now run you almost $63.


You can avoid paying the sales tax if you obtain a special medical marijuana identification card issued by the state Department of Public Health, but you will still need to pay the 15 percent state excise tax no matter what. You will also be entered into a state database that can be accessed by law enforcement and dispensaries for verification purposes.

Also note that having the card will not preclude you from being disqualified for a job because of marijuana use, and Prop 64 allows for employers to fire an existing worker if she or he tests positive for marijuana.


Keep in mind that marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, so while you are safe inside the state of California, don’t think about trying to carry it with you on a plane going elsewhere.

It is also good to remember that you cannot smoke it while in your car. If you get pulled over right after you put out the blunt, the likelihood is high that you will be cited for DUI or DWI and possibly arrested. Even if you are not smoking it, you cannot have an open container of weed in your car. Save yourself the trouble and put it in your trunk.


Decriminalization of marijuana is a good thing. Everyone smokes, mostly.

Just follow the rules, be safe when you use it and remember the golden rule:

Smoke top-shelf. There’s already enough stress in life; you don’t need to be putting that shit in your chest.


Read more at The Cannifornian and the Los Angeles Times.

News Editor for The Root. I said what I said. Period.


Not Enough Day Drinking

the top-shelf eighth that you used to get for $50 will now run you almost $63.

That’s not how economics works. If the prices rise above the current rate when it’s illegal to purchase, then people will go back to purchasing things illegally. But legalizing it will realize dramatic drops in prices very quickly.

Whatever the state takes in taxes will more than be made up for by the drop in the retail price. So you will be paying less for marijuana after legalization than you were before. That’s guaranteed (assuming the same quality of course).

For example, in just 18 months, the retail price of marijuana in Washington State dropped by over 50%.