If you live in California and your 2018 Resolution is to smoke more weed, you’re in luck – California recreational marijuana is about to go live in three, two, one…happy new year! In the words of Matthew McConaughey’s creepy character from Dazed and Confused, “Alright, alright, alright.”
Starting January 1, anyone 21 and over will be able to buy pot in California. However, this doesn’t mean you can saunter into any dispensary in the state and have a free for all. There are certain things to remember before all the fun begins.
Tips for the California Recreational Market
Bring cold hard cash
Most (if not all) dispensaries will probably have ATMs on site (they’d be crazy not to), but cannabis is a strict cash business. From the consumer’s standpoint, this means you need to bring your bills (or pay in change – cashiers love that!). Because pot is still federally illegal, marijuana works outside of banking and this includes credit cards.
VISA isn’t really everywhere you want to be….at least not in terms of marijuana
In other legal states, dispensaries are also cash-based. Still, some get around this by using clever tactics (mainly charging your credit card under a fake business name that won’t generate any red flags). Some even use Bitcoin. It’s unlikely that recreational dispensaries in California will do this to start – sidestepping the rules? We build to that. So, bring along your dough, re, mi. Or, at minimum, your ATM card.
Prepare for lines
When recreational weed went on sale on New Year’s Day in 2014 Colorado, people lined up like they were waiting outside a rock concert. And the novelty didn’t wear off anytime soon – the lines remained for weeks until more dispensaries opened, and interest leveled off. It’s likely that California shops will experience a similar influx of customers – thus, wear your walking shoes (or, more accurately, your standing shoes).
Bring your ID
It doesn’t matter how old you are, if you don’t have your ID, you’re out of luck in the purchasing department. Even if you’re a grandfather, even if you were born during the Great Depression, even if you’re the oldest person on the West Coast, no ID, no Hindu Kush or Sour Diesel. In bars and liquor stores, IDs are used to verify age. In dispensaries, they’re also used for age verification, but they’re used to track purchases too – this helps assure you don’t purchase more than the legal limit in any given day. And, for this reason, don’t expect to be able to buy anything if you leave your ID in your other jeans.
Know where you’re going
With the California recreational pot industry in its infancy, the places selling recreational weed are limited. Only shops that have both local permits and state licenses granting them permission to sell recreational weed are able to sell. In other words, your favorite medical dispensary may or may not be selling.
Know that not every county in California has opted to participate in this recreational game
Some counties are outlawing it within their boundaries (this has also occurred in other legal states). For a map of dispensaries that are selling beginning on January 1, click here. Per their website, this map will be updated regularly.
Know what you’re walking into
Not everyone knows what to expect when walking into a dispensary for the first time. There is no hard and fast rule that says stores need to conform to a certain style, but you’ll most likely walk into something that feels more like a showroom and less like a head shop. In Colorado, many recreational dispensaries almost feel like Apple Stores. Only instead of iPads, they sell Ice Wreck.
Don’t open your goods outside the shop
You know when you were a kid and you were so excited to play with your new toy that you tore it open at the entrance of Toys R Us? You didn’t care – you dodged rabid shopping carts and annoyed customers just so you could hear the melodious voice of Teddy Ruxpin. Well, you can’t do that with weed.
Public consumption of marijuana isn’t allowed even with the new recreational law on the books
In that regard, it’s similar to alcohol – you can buy a six-pack, but you can’t drink it outside on the curb. Not legally, anyway. If you’re caught smoking cannabis in public, you can expect a fine. If you’re caught smoking in places where tobacco is explicitly banned (like a hospital), that fine increases.
Don’t smoke behind the wheel
This brings us to driving with an open container of cannabis – yes, that’s a thing. If you’re caught smoking behind the wheel, you’re subject to fines and fees. If there’s a suspicion you’re high (something that is controversial because cannabis lingers in the bloodstream after the active high wears off), you may be subject to more serious implications, like a DWI.
It’s not worth the risk, so opt for safer places instead: your own home or the bathroom in your parents’ basement. You know – the one that’s stocked full of Febreze.
Don’t think about starting your own small business
If the entrepreneur in you sees a chance to purchase weed and sell said weed for a profit, stop right there. Good job on your ambitions, now apply them to something legal. Selling marijuana remains illegal unless you work in a dispensary and possess the proper licenses. Getting caught selling comes with serious consequences, especially if you’re caught selling to someone underage. The fines discussed above? They come along with jail time.
So, there you have it. Recreational Mary Jane is going back to Cali, Cali, Cali (or headed there for the first time). Now citizens can legally get their hands on the ganja. Just remember, Colorado did it first.