California Rings In The New Year With Recreational Marijuana

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This year California will become yet another state to legalize recreational cannabis. And not “sometime next year”... It’s actually happening on New Year’s. At exactly 12:01am, on January 1st, 2018, Californians rang in the new year with a new law.

Remember way back in November 2016, when almost 8 million people – 57% of voters – voted to legalize recreational marijuana? Well that is what we have here. As of today, the fine voters of California will finally be able to roll up in the comfort of their own homes, and this time it’ll be 100% legal.  The new law allows adults over the age of 21 to buy and possess cannabis as well as grow up to 6 plants. Of course, there will be taxes enforced on both the cultivation and sales, but that feels like nothing compared to the freedom and luxury of recreational marijuana. 

While most are excited about what legalization could bring to the state, some people still have worries about the incoming $7 billion industry. One of the main concerns for legal marijuana is the regulations. The Californian government is hoping to find a “Goldilocks” balance between pushing too hard and too soft. If the government enforced strict regulations and taxes, most of the current black-market industry would stay in the shadows, along with the governments millions of dollars in potential tax revenue. On the other hand, if the regulations aren’t strict enough, people would most likely not take them seriously, which could lead to abuse of the system like enabling companies to form monopolies. That paired with the slow development of infrastructure of the industry, such as compliance systems, lab testing, centralized distribution, leaves people feeling anxious about the transition.

Another area of concern is that the federal government still considers marijuana illegal and dangerous. This is a major obstacle for many who want to start their own marijuana business because banks don’t want to be attached to an illegal substance. That means that banks won’t give loans to potential dispensary owners who have to face the enormous regulation and permitting costs, making it almost impossible to start up. 

We’re in some murky water. On one hand, you have the promise of millions in tax revenue, which could be used to improve California’s schools and infrastructure, and on the other you have the lurking federal government undermining the whole operation. So how have other states kept legal marijuana afloat? Let’s take a look at the poster child for recreational marijuana: Colorado.

Colorado passed Amendment 64 in 2012, which legalized marijuana recreationally. Since becoming officially legal in 2014, Colorado has seen some amazing results. According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, the state has made over $615 million in retail marijuana sales and fee collections since 2014. With all this extra money, Colorado has been able to fund millions of dollars to programs such as the Department of Public Health and Environment, Building Excellent Schools Today, and the Department of Education. 

In just under 3 years after embracing the single fastest-growing industry in the United States, Colorado has brought in over half a billion dollars in revenue. Now imagine that with California, the 6th largest economy in the world. The benefits of this monumental law would possibly help shape the future of the United States. So get ready cannabis enthusiasts, this year we will be be able to legally ring in the new year with more than champagne!  

What You Need to Know:

  • The law officially comes into effect on January 1st, 2018
  • The law allows adults over the age of 21 to buy and possess up to an ounce of marijuana and 8 grams of concentrated cannabis (oils, waxes, dabs, etc.) 
  • Adults over 21 are allowed to grow up to 6 plants in their homes and keep the harvest 
  • Cannabis can only be smoked in private or in properly licensed businesses
  • Fines for smoking in public range between $100-250
  • Only state or locally licensed dispensaries are allowed to sell 
  • Driving while under the influence is strictly prohibited
  • Marijuana advertisements are not allowed on television, billboards, and some radio stations
  • Those who want to grow or sell to others must obtain licenses to do so or face up to 6 months in prison and or a $500 fine