Recreational marijuana is now for sale in California — here's what you need to know
January 3, 2018
By Melia Robinson
The Golden State is about to get a lot greener.
Sales of recreational marijuana began on Monday, January 1, after Californians voted to legalize the drug in the 2016 election. The market's debut brings an end to prohibition in the most populous state, which is now also the biggest legal marijuana market in America.
Adults over the age of 21 can now use, carry, and buy up to an ounce of marijuana for non-medical use, and grow as many as six plants at home, without a doctor's letter.
How can you buy it?
Though it is legal, Golden State tokers won't find marijuana in corner drug stores.
California began issuing temporary licenses to dispensaries — or pot shops — in December that will allow those stores to sell non-medical marijuana. The licenses became valid on January 1.
So far, the state Bureau of Cannabis Control has awarded retail licenses to over 100 dispensaries from Eureka to Oakland to San Diego. (There are more than 1,300 dispensaries statewide.) Customers can view a full list of the pot shops that received licenses on the bureau's website.
State rules dictate that marijuana will not be sold between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Not everyone in California is on board with the so-called green rush. A review by the Los Angeles Times found that more than 70% of California's counties and cities, including Fresno, Bakersfield, and Anahaim, have moved to ban the sale or cultivation of marijuana.
How much will it cost?
The nation's going rate for legal, non-medical marijuana is about $11 per gram or $34 for an eighth of an ounce, according to price index site MJCharts.
State law imposes a 15% tax on sales of the drug, which will generate up to $1 billion in new tax revenue annually, according to the state's nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office. Additional state and local taxes means some Californians could expect to pay an effective tax rate of 45% each time they buy.
Marijuana could get more expensive after a series of massive wildfires in Northern California last fall wiped out as much as a year's supply for some industry growers. BDS Analytics, a marijuana data insights company, told Business Insider that a shortage could causes prices to rise as much as 10 to 20% — roughly $2 more per gram or $7 more per eighth of an ounce.
Where can you smoke it?
It's still illegal to consume marijuana in public, on sidewalks, and in places where smoking tobacco is prohibited, like restaurants and theaters. Lighting up while driving is also off-limits. People busted for smoking weed in public can expect to pay a fine between $100 and $250.
A private home is the safest bet for legal toking, though landlords may prohibit the possession of marijuana on their premises.