Marijuana, the recreational drug that has launched a thousand comedy and dramatic bits on TV and film, will become legal in California as of January 1st.
Now the problem is navigating the crazy-quilt of regulations and law enforcement that will still govern marijuana’s use and possession in the state.
Thanks to the passage of Proposition 64 in November, 2016, legalizing the sale and cultivation of recreational marijuana for adults, California will be the biggest state to legalize by far. Despite the proposition passing by 57 percent, it still remains controversial in some quarters, and governments are not fully behind the movement.
Los Angeles is a prime example of the hurdles in the new law. The city delayed accepting applications for legal sales until Jan. 3, causing a delay of weeks in any recreational shops opening. Other places – like California’s Kern County – have banned commercial activity.
Even though recreational use is now legal, you can’t smoke it in public, or within 1,000 feet of a school or daycare center when children are present. You also can’t smoke and drive. Local governments have the authority to make their own rules governing use, which will cause further confusion.
Smoking weed from legal establishments will also be more expensive than street versions, thanks to the taxes imposed by the state. California anticipates generating a billion dollars in new revenue from recreational sales within a few years.
At least one business has embraced the anticipated new wave of recreational use. Jack in the Box Inc. has partnered with a digital media company backed by Snoop Dogg on a new munchie meal for hungry smokers, becoming the first national fast food chain to formally embrace the marijuana user community.
The “Merry Munchie Meal” will be available at three California locations for a week in January. Its price is an elbow-in-the-ribs $4.20, also the time of the day notorious for smokers to light up. The meal features two tacos, french fries, onion rings, five mini churros, three chicken strips and a small drink.