Californians started their post-holiday work week on Tuesday, which was actually Day Two of their inaugural legal-weed week as the Golden State became the sixth in the nation to legalize the use of cannabis for recreational purposes.
It’s been a long time coming. It was 105 years ago that California banned what it once called “loco-weed.” And despite the easing of criminal penalties for use of the drug since the 1970s, and the subsequent legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes in 1996, you could still get busted for smoking the stuff until voters in 2016 made it legal for adults 21 and older to grow, possess and use limited quantities of marijuana for recreational purposes. That 2016 initiative set Jan. 1, 2018, as the day recreational sales would become legal.
With the legalization this week, pot news is popping up all over the place as residents of California learn all about the twists and turns of the state’s new law and its implications. We wanted to get our arms around this multi-faceted news story and figured a look at a few headlines might help. Here they are:
The headline: “California Recreational Pot Sales Roll Out With Deliveries, Celebratory ‘Blunts’ and Some Anxiety”
The source: KTLA5, Los Angeles
The story: Running with some CNN copy, the station’s website lays out the big picture for us, with quotes from people lined up outside retail shops, tales of owners stocking up on supplies and of delivery outfits like Urbn Leaf in San Diego hitting the streets. “We can deliver marijuana in 20 minutes; it’s like pizza,” Will Senn, a co-founder of Urbn Leaf, told the LA Times.
The headline: “Marijuana is Legal in California Now. Will an Uber-for-Pot Gold Rush Follow?”
The source: Recode
The story: Legal cannabis, says the report, not only should be a boon for the growers and retailers selling cannabis, but could spawn a secondary industry of pot-delivery startups like Eaze, “which lets users order drug deliveries through an app. The company’s VP of product, Jamie Feaster, told Recode via email that orders from baby boomers and women have spiked in the past year, which they believe indicates growing comfort with recreational marijuana use among a broader swath of the population.” And, like Uber’s independent contractors behind the wheel, Eaze CEO Keith McCarty explains how his company “still does not employ delivery drivers directly; instead, as McCarty described in 2016, they are still all employees of the dispensaries with which Eaze partners.”
The headline: “Mike Tyson Opens New 40-acre Cannabis Ranch after California Legalises Weed”
The source: The Sun (UK)
The story: Celeb names sell, of course. And when they’re paired with pot in a headline, the clicks start flowing. “Boxing legend, 51, has bought site in California City, a town with a population of just 15,000 people southwest of Death Valley,” says the story in the gossip-heavy British tabloid. The piece lays out the vision for “Tyson Ranch:” 20 acres for ”master growers;” a school where farmers can learn how to grow and create their own cannabis strains, called “the Tyson Cultivation School;” and an “amphitheatre, complete with luxury camping area and cabins.”
— #FORTUNE420.COM® (@Fortune420Group) January 1, 2018
The headline: “City of Shasta Lake Officials Looking Forward to Proceeds from Recreational Cannabis”
The source: Action News 12
The story: In the what’s-in-it-for-me department, this news story describes a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday in the City of Shasta Lake, a small town on the southern flank of Mount Shasta, and the joy local officials were feeling about legal pot. Sales, they said, would feed the town coffers and usher in “what they say is a new era in the city’s history.” The report quotes Mike Radar, President of the Shasta Lake City Chamber of Commerce, talking about the town’s longtime support for the legalization of pot: “Shasta Lake has been on the forefront of this and fighting for it for a long time,” he says. “And now that it’s coming to fruition I see great economic development happening here from all the new revenues that this will bring to us.” It concludes with this fiscal note: “Some experts say the cannabis industry is expected to become a 10 billion dollar business in coming years, surpassing even the wine industry.”
The headline: “Pot Legalization Is Transforming California’s Criminal Justice Landscape. Here’s How.”
The source: Mother Jones
The story: In an intriguing take, the investigative powerhouse of Mother Jones magazine breaks down a more under-the-radar piece of the legal-pot story, looking at the criminal-justice fallout from Prop. 64, including the new law’s impact on minors. The most interesting part of the story is the section that looks at people currently doing time for marijuana offenses, crimes that essentially aren’t crimes anymore in California: ” So, people locked up for stuff that’s now legal will get out?” the reports, then answer this way: “Not immediately, but, yes—many of them could be released earlier than their original dates. Prop. 64 created a process through which anyone incarcerated or serving a term on probation, parole, or community supervision for a weed-related offense can petition a judge to have their sentence reduced if the previous conduct now classifies as a lesser offense. The law requires judges to resentence any such applicant, except in instances where it is determined that the applicant might commit a serious, violent felony upon release.” Hundreds of offenders are pursuing such petitions.
And, as if Mother Jones hadn’t already dug deeply enough into the, sorry, weeds around Prop. 64, they included arcane tidbits like this: “To ensure some of the profits from legal weed will benefit the communities most hurt by the war on drugs, some cities—including Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Francisco—are prioritizing dispensary licensing applicants with past pot-related convictions, or who live in communities with high arrest rates for weed.”
The headline: “Recreational Marijuana is Officially Legal in California. Is Florida Next?”
The source: Channel 10 News, Tampa Bay/Sarasota
The story: In just one of dozens of stories about how California’s pot-legalization is impacting places far beyond the state’s border, Channel 10 looks at how a move in the Golden State might affect the Sunshine State. ‘With Massachusetts up next to start selling recreational pot, legalization advocates believe Rhode Island, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Delaware could be the next states to pass recreational marijuana laws. But what about Florida?” The piece goes on to quote Pete Sessa, an advocate working with Regulate Florida, which is trying to get a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana on the state ballot: “Things are happening now very very quickly,” he says, adding that “momentum is on the side of marijuana proponents in Florida.”
The headline: “Marijuana is Legal in California as of Jan. 1, 2018, but Border Patrol Will Still Seize it”
The source: Oregon Live
The story: Finally, the Associated Press weighs in from Pine Valley, California, to report that while California is legalizing marijuana for recreational use “that won’t stop federal agents from seizing the drug — even in tiny amounts — on busy freeways and backcountry highways. Marijuana possession still will be prohibited at eight Border Patrol checkpoints in California, a reminder that state and federal laws collide when it comes to pot. The U.S. government classifies marijuana as a controlled substance, like heroin and LSD.”
The AP quotes Ryan Yamasaki, an assistant chief of the Border Patrol’s San Diego sector, saying basically that when it comes to federal contraband operations, the more things change, the more they stay the same: “Prior to Jan. 1, it’s going to be the same after Jan. 1, because nothing changed on our end. If you’re a federal law enforcement agency, you uphold federal laws.”