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Congratulations, California!


Yesterday ushered in a new era for cannabis with the world’s sixth-largest economy (California) coming online with legal, adult-use cannabis. January 1st marked the first day stores were allowed to sell the product to anyone over the age of 21 without a doctor’s explicit recommendation.

I would say that people seem pleased, but the word doesn’t even begin to address it. Euphoric? Elated? Ecstatic? Approaching nirvana?

I’m confident that tears were shed by many, mostly tears of joy, though part of me would feel some guilty delight if US Attorney General Jeff “Really Needs a Session” Sessions woke to a little sniveling and blubbering for his start to the new year. Most certainly, he and others of the prohibition ilk must realize their reign of terror is coming to an end, and that freedom is looming large for the cannabis plant.

In fact, a quick view of the news on the website for the country’s strongest group supporting prohibition, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), will show that they have not issued any statement whatsoever about California – probably as to not remind people of their failures, I’m guessing. On Google News, the arch-nemesis of cannabis Kevin Sabet, only appears to have one news outlet interested in his opinion about California’s big day.

Meanwhile, the California State Bureau of Cannabis Control cited the success of their 2018 launch:

“‘This is an historic day for the state of California,’ Bureau of Cannabis Control Chief Lori Ajax said. ‘It marks the beginning of a legal cannabis marketplace that will be well regulated in order to protect consumers and maintain a level playing field for cannabis-related businesses. We are hopeful that we have put forth a model that other states will look to as an example when they head down the path to legalization.'”

According to the Bureau, over 400 temporary licenses have been issued for retailers, distributors, microbusinesses, testing laboratories, and event organizers, with additional licensing for manufacturers and cultivators being issued by the California Department of Public Health and the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

This has, of course, led to much revelry for the population. Scores of cannabis enthusiasts queued up in advance of the early morning kickoff to participate in this moment in history. At Berkeley Patients Group, the longest operating cannabis dispensary in the country, saw patrons lining up as early as 3:45 am to wait for doors opening at 6:00. Those early patrons – my dear friends and longtime activists Mikki Norris and Chris Conrad, old friends of cannabis legend Jack Herer.

From Jimi Divine at Cannabis Now:

“What we’re getting are three Jack Herer joints in honor of our friend Jack Herer who worked with us for many years but didn’t survive to see the day,” Conrad said. “We’re buying joints in his name today.” Conrad and Norris also grabbed a dark chocolate bar from Kiva Confections.

Okay, I’m crying now!!

Numbers are still coming out as to how well the open dispensaries have done, but at Berkeley Patients Group, MJBizDaily reports that by noon the shop had completed $22,000 in sales with almost 300 customer transactions in 5 1/2 hours. That kept pace for another 11 1/2 hours, but I will let you do the math. By 10 pm, roughly 1,250 customers had come through the door.

I don’t know about you, but the end of prohibition sounds pretty amazing to me! I wish I could have been in California to participate in the joy for the new year, but I am looking forward to visiting in just one month, on February 1-2, for the International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco (where California Cannabis Czar Lori Ajax will be speaking). I hope you can make it, too. Get your tickets today!

Berkeley Patients Group, Bureau of Cannabis Control, California, Cannabis Czar, Lori Ajax