Sat | Apr 21, 2018

New year brings legalisation of ganja for recreational use in California

Published:Monday | January 1, 2018 | 10:45 AM
In this Dec. 29, 2017, photo, Khalil Moutawakkil, co-founder and CEO of KindPeoples, poses for a portrait with some marijuana plants in his dispensary - AP Photo

While there were spectacular fireworks in Hong Kong and Australia and a huge LED lightshow at the world’s tallest building in Dubai, the Golden State of California in the United States went green when the calendar turned to 2018.

It is a much-anticipated change that comes two decades after the state was the first to allow pot for medical use.

The nation's most populous state joins a growing list of other states, and the nation's capital, where so-called recreational marijuana is permitted even though the federal government continues to classify pot as a controlled substance, like heroin.

Pot is now legal in California for adults 21 and older, and individuals can grow up to six plants and possess as much as an ounce of the drug.

But finding a retail outlet to buy non-medical pot in California won't be easy, at least initially.

Only about 90 businesses received state licenses to open on New Year's Day. They are concentrated in San Diego, Santa Cruz, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Palm Springs area.

Los Angeles and San Francisco are among the many cities where recreational pot will not be available right away because local regulations were not approved in time to start issuing city licenses needed to get state permits. Meanwhile, Fresno, Bakersfield and Riverside are among the communities that have adopted laws forbidding recreational marijuana sales.

Just after midnight, some Californians were raising blunts instead of champagne glasses.

Johnny Hernandez, a tattoo artist from Modesto, celebrated New Year's Eve by smoking "Happy New Year blunts" with his cousins.

"This is something we've all been waiting for," he said.

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