A customer purchases marijuana at Harborside dispensary in Oakland, California, on Monday. On New Year’s Day, California joined its northern West Coast neighbors in the legal recreational pot trade, but it wasn’t quite reefer madness. Still, those who could find the drug celebrated the historic day, lining up early for ribbon-cuttings, freebies and offerings ranging from cookies to gummy bears to just plain weed. Harborside founder Steve DeAngelo used a giant pair of scissors to cut a green ribbon, declaring, “With these scissors I dub thee free,” before ringing up the first customer at a cash register.
Sales were brisk in the shops lucky to score one of the roughly 100 state licenses issued so far — in a state of about 39 million people — and customers in some of the state’s largest cities were out of luck. Los Angeles and San Francisco hadn’t authorized shops in time; others blocked sales altogether.
California voters made it legal in 2016 for adults 21 and older to grow, possess and use limited quantities of marijuana, but it wasn’t legal to sell it for recreational purposes until Monday. The federal government continues to classify pot as a controlled substance, like heroin and LSD.
The state Bureau of Cannabis Control was not aware of any problems or complaints about the first day of sales, but it didn’t have inspectors in the field, a spokesman said. Employees worked the holiday to process 1,400 pending license applications for retail sales, distribution and testing facilities.
(AP photo/Mathew Sumner; reporting by AP)