As the new year begins, new laws go into effect across the country. One of the most controversial laws is California’s new law legalizing recreational use of marijuana. If you’re at least 21, when you’re in California, you can walk into a pot shop and walk out with the marijuana of your choice. Marijuana is big business, and now the world’s biggest marijuana sales market is the Golden State.
Marijuana enthusiasts eagerly lined up as early as 6 a.m. on New Year’s Day to begin making purchases. California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control oversees licensing and regulation of marijuana shops. They expect marijuana sales to boom throughout the state.
Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom welcomes the changes. He says law enforcement officials can focus their efforts on “real crime.” Legalizing marijuana is a matter of economy, he says, because law-enforcement officials can now spend their time on more important matters. He says it’s best to move marijuana out of the black market.
California has always been at the forefront of the marijuana movement. Voters legalized medical marijuana 20 years ago. Voters approved the move to fully-legalized marijuana in 2016. Analysts say that the marijuana economy is worth as much as $7 billion. They say sales will bring approximately $1 billion into tax coffers each year.
Sellers see the legalization of marijuana sales as an opportunity. They expect busy sales. Only eight states allow marijuana use without a medical need.
The world is watching. If all goes well, it could pave the way for more states to fully legalize marijuana. If there are problems, it could be a warning sign to other states.
Analysts expect the industry to thrive in California because of the booming tourism industry. Millions of people visit California each year. Economists expect many tourists to make marijuana a part of their travel plans. Proponents of the legalization of marijuana say it’s a great opportunity to show all tourists that legalized marijuana can work.
Good or bad, California’s marijuana economy is about to take the spotlight. Adults can have as much as an ounce of marijuana. It’s also okay to grow six marijuana plants at home. Just like it’s illegal to smoke a cigarette in public, it’s illegal to use marijuana in public. In addition to these changes, people with marijuana convictions from years past can petition the court to have the convictions removed from the public record. However, some say it’s unfair to remove a record of a person breaking a law even if marijuana is now legal.