11.28.2016
policy

Some L.A. Weed Shops Are Already Selling Pot To Anyone Over 21

Weed is technically legal in California, but you can't sell it just yet.

In November, California voters approved Proposition 64, the Control, Tax and Regulate Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Under Prop 64, adults 21 and over can legally possess, cultivate, and purchase cannabis. Tax revenue earned from retail pot sales will go to Golden State school budgets, law enforcement training, and environmental programs; the California weed world will finally see legitimacy. The initiative is said to be a first step in righting Drug War wrongs. Parts of Prop 64 went into effect immediately––as of now, you won’t be prosecuted for possessing, using, and growing weed. But retail sales, and the regulations governing said pot transactions will not be in place until January 1, 2018. 

According to the California Weed Blog, some L.A. pot shops are jumping the gun on Prop 64. Despite the legal timeline, a number of Los Angeles-area dispensaries are advertising via WeedMaps listings that they are now "Prop 64-friendly," and will sell weed to anyone above the age of 21. 

Medical marijuana has been legal in California since Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, was passed in 1996. In the nearly two decades since the initiative passed, little progress was made in regard to regulating the droves of medical weed dispensaries and ancillary businesses that sprung up to service California’s marijuana needs. According to anti-prohibition advocacy group, the Marijuana Policy Project, there are more than 720,000 registered medical marijuana patients in the Golden State. Even as other states such as Colorado, Washington, and Oregon passed recreational weed laws, Los Angeles emerged as one of the largest cannabis markets in the country.

The dichotomy between California’s medical and now legal recreational marijuana industries is hard to predict. Prop 64 has consumers and patients alike paying a 15 percent excise tax on all pot purchases, though sales tax can be waived if one has a state medical marijuana card.

Though these may be the first shops to slang trees as if recreational sales are already being taxed, regulated, and controlled––they will likely not be the last. 

“If [Proposition 64] is a recreational bill, it’s language should only be addressing recreational use, and not mention medical marijuana, at all,” Dr. Perry Solomon, chief medical officer for online recommendation provider HelloMD, previously told KINDLAND. “The taxation [of recreational sales] will be a numbers issue that comes up. Individual counties are probably going to want to see [legalized use] as a gold mine, from which they can draw revenues. . .” 

In Colorado, which legalized recreational use in 2012, medical marijuana patients pay less money for stronger weed, because retail sales are subject to state, local, and excise taxes––only sales tax is applied to medical purchases. The two markets coexist, and the medical side of the Colorado weed industry saw little decline once recreational legislation was enacted. 

Of course, any comparison to Colorado is no sure indicator of how things will play out in a post-Prop 64 California. As far as weed is concerned, the west is as wild as ever, and though these may be the first shops to slang trees as if recreational sales are already being taxed, regulated, and controlled––they will likely not be the last. 

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