January 1, 2018 is a big day for cannabis consumers in the Golden State. But exactly where (and when) will you be able to buy California marijuana?
California is the largest state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana, but, with the first licenses in the state being issued as we speak, a majority of California’s 482 cities still haven’t authorized recreational pot sales — and aren’t likely to do so anytime soon.
As we’ve discussed previously, California was already one of the nation’s biggest pot producers when it became the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. Residents in the Golden State voted to approve the legal sale and possession of an ounce of pot for recreational use in November of 2016, but now, with growers wanting to seize the opportunity to make some bank in the booming industry, most cities and counties won’t be allow commercial cannabis sales by the January 1, 2018 target date.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, the November 2016 initiative immediately allowed Californians age 21 and older to possess and transport up to an ounce of marijuana for use for recreational purposes, as well as grow up to six plants for personal use. And sales of recreational cannabis were slated for January 2018.
In order to sell recreational California marijuana, the Times explains, retailers must first get approval of their individual cities or counties before they can be licensed by the state. Los Angeles will allow retailers to sell recreational weed in January, joining other major cities like San Francisco, San Diego, Oakland and San Jose. Cities and counties can opt out of allowing commercial cannabis sales, however, and most have, including Riverside, Fresno, Bakersfield, Pasadena and Anaheim. Other cities, like Long Beach, say they will take another look at the issue after they see how the new system works elsewhere.
“It’s going to be months, maybe even a year before a majority of the state has access that is less than a half-hour drive away,” Nate Bradley, a representative of the California Cannabis Industry Association, told the Times. He estimated that only about a third of the state will initially allow the sale of recreational weed.
As of the time of this writing, it appears that the 150 medical marijuana dispensaries already in Los Angeles will be the some of the first places that can apply for recreational sales licenses from the state in January. Being able to apply for a license doesn’t mean they will be able to sell pot right away, however. Licensed retailers will still have to deal with delays brought on by a flood of other applicants, staffing issues, and a huge set of new rules for cannabis growers, sellers and distributors.
In the interim the state has issued temporary licenses to a short roster of California marijuana dispensaries, and our friends over at Leafly have compiled a running list of these. Click here, to view them.
“The first few weeks, the first month, I do think people need to be patient,” Lori Ajax, director of the state Bureau of Cannabis Control, told the Times.
Some will need to be more patient than others. Like, way more patient.