California pot shops ring in 2018, ring up first legal sales - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

California pot shops ring in 2018, ring up first legal sales

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8/AP) — Starting Monday, anyone 21 years of age and older will be able to legally buy marijuana in California with just an ID.

A local dispensary News 8 visited Sunday was getting ready to kick off sales.  

Customer Rachel Smith spoke with News 8 from inside Golden State Greens as she was getting her shopping done there on Sunday.  

"I enjoy it - it's an occasional pleasure and entertainment," said Smith. "I thought with tomorrow being the first official day of marijuana being legal, there might be a crowd."  

As of Jan. 1, it will be legal to sell recreational marijuana at the dispensary and at about a dozen others throughout San Diego.  

"We have over 100 employees here that are ready to do anything at any time," said Golden State Greens owner Adam Knopf. "All hands are on deck, right now. We are prepared."  

While medical patients with proper authorization from a doctor can buy a maximum of eight ounces per day.  

Recreational customers are allowed to buy one ounce of adult-use cannabis per day - and the taxes are steep.  

"The recreational person flying in from Dubai or the Dominican Republic - they will be able to come in and purchase; if they've got a $100 purchase they will be paying 30 percent tax," said Knopf. 

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 and LSD.

California voters in 2016 made it legal 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.

Only about 90 businesses received state licenses to open New Year’s Day. They are concentrated here in San Diego, as well as, 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. 

Los Angeles officials announced late last month that the city will not begin accepting license applications until Jan. 3, and it might take weeks before any licenses are issued. 

California is now the eighth state to legalize recreational marijuana. 

Opponents argue it's a safety risk and it will make the drug more accessible to young people. 

 "I still think responsibility for young children is on their parents," said Smith. "Education is really important."  

Today, 29 states have adopted medical marijuana laws. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana. Since then, five more states have passed recreational marijuana laws, including Massachusetts, where retail sales are scheduled to begin in July.

Even with other states as models, the next year is expected to be a bumpy one in California as more shops open and more stringent regulations take effect on the strains known as Sweet Skunk, Trainwreck and Russian Assassin.

The California Police Chiefs Association, which opposed the 2016 ballot measure, remains concerned about stoned drivers, the risk to young people and the cost of policing the new rules in addition to an existing black market.

“There’s going to be a public-health cost and a public-safety cost enforcing these new laws and regulations,” said Jonathan Feldman, a legislative advocate for the chiefs. “It remains to be seen if this can balance itself out.”

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