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New Year, New Laws For Recreational Marijuana In California

By Beth Leipholtz 01/03/18

Though the sale of marijuana is now legal in the state, consumers may still have a difficult time finding places to purchase it. 

People hawking "Medical Marijuana" on the Venice Beach Board Wal

With the turning of the calendar year, California has joined the expanding list of states to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana. 

Medical marijuana has been legal in the state for two decades, but the sale of recreational marijuana is new ground for California. In November 2016, Proposition 64 was passed and paved the way for the sale of recreational marijuana. 

“We are very excited that citizens of California voted to end the failed policy of marijuana prohibition," Nate Bradley, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association, told the Los Angeles Times in 2016. "Proposition 64 will allow California to take its rightful place as the center of cannabis innovation, research and development.” 

According to the Los Angeles Times, in 2016, a pre-election survey discovered that 25% of voters in California had used marijuana at some point for recreational purposes, but only 18% had done so in the past year. The survey also found that 2% said they would be much more likely to use marijuana if Proposition 64 passed, 5% would be more likely to use it and 89% said they’d be no more likely to use marijuana despite it being legalized. 

Now that the law is in effect, adults 21 and older may legally use the substance and individuals may grow up to six plants and can have up to one ounce of the drug, according to Time.

Jeff Poel, president of the Ecological Cannabis Organization, operates a store in Eureka, California that sells recreational marijuana and tells the Los Angeles Times that he’s happy the law passed. 

"I am happy because it's time," Poel said. "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 I."

Though the sale of marijuana is now legal, consumers may still have a difficult time finding places to purchase it. Time states that only about 90 businesses in the state received licenses to open on New Year’s Day. Those businesses are mostly located in San Diego, Santa Cruz, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Palm Springs area.

Because local regulations were not approved in time, recreational marijuana will not yet be sold in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Certain cities, including Fresno, Bakersfield and Riverside, have implemented laws that forbid the sale of recreational marijuana. 

According to the New York Times, California is the sixth state to introduce the sale of recreational marijuana. Other states include Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Nevada. Massachusetts and potentially Maine are expected to begin sales later in 2018.

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.

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