In the New Year, Access to Recreational Marijuana Not What Many Hoped For—But, there is Good News

In the New Year, Access to Recreational Marijuana Not What Many Hoped For—But, there is Good News


California entrepreneurs are counting down as they prepare for the first state-issued licenses for the sale of recreational marijuana. 

When California voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana, it is unclear how many potential entrepreneurs realized the complexity of the licensing process involved or that cities and counties could opt out of the process and refuse permits for commercial sales within their geography. 

Proposition 64, which legalized the sale of recreational marijuana, was approved by voters by a large margin in 2016. In retrospect, passing the measure appears to have been the easiest part of the process. Entrepreneurs wishing to make their fortune in recreational marijuana sales must first navigate state and local guidelines to secure a license to sell—and both are required. Before a license can be issued by the state, the retail sales person must be approved to sell in the city or county where they intend to do business. 

Currently, it appears only about a third of the state’s municipalities are issuing licenses for the sale of recreational pot beginning in January. The others, including the Inland Empire communities, are taking a “wait and see” approach. The California Cannabis Industry Association is hopeful, however, that as municipalities participating in recreational sales start to reap the benefits of added tax revenues, reluctant municipalities will have a change of heart. 

In the meantime, according to Director Lori Ajax, California Bureau of Cannabis Control, there are over 1,300 medical marijuana dispensaries across the state that will be able to renew licenses to continue selling medical marijuana. 

Although initially shoppers will not be able to purchase recreational marijuana in most of the state, since the passage of Proposition 64, those 21 years of age and older are able to possess up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use and grow up to six plants for their personal use. 

For those previously convicted of marijuana related charges in California, Proposition 64 was a boon. The good news for these individuals is that the new law gives them an opportunity to start over by having their criminal records cleared of any marijuana related convictions. Whether it was a minor infraction or a serious felony, they may file a petition to have their sentences reduced, re-designated, or eliminated. To date, more than 4,000 individuals statewide have filed.

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