Recreational Pot Sales Start Monday; High Prices Predicted at First

January 1, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Starting today, Californians ages 21 and older will legally be able to buy marijuana for recreational purposes – no medical marijuana card required.

The state will begin licensing the producers, distributors and storefronts. But there won’t be a “pot shop” on every block, because cities and counties will have their own sets of rules. So, it could take months for many shops to be up and running.

Dale Gieringer, director of Cal NORML, says this is a whole new era of personal freedom in the Golden State.

“It’s huge for California,” he says. “This is the real end of Prohibition, in the sense that we’re going to actually have stores where marijuana is treated more or less like alcohol.”

California's prohibition of the recreational use of marijuana ends Jan. 1, 2018

California’s prohibition of the recreational use of marijuana ends Jan. 1, 2018

Cannabis was first banned in California in 1913. Voters legalized medical marijuana in 1996. With the passage of Prop 64 last year, possession of recreational marijuana became legal – and now, consumers will be able to stroll into a store and buy it.

Gieringer says the prices will be high at first, because recreational marijuana is much more highly regulated compared with medical pot.

“So now, we’re going to have very tight regulations over every phase of the market from seed to sale,” he explains. “Every gram is going to be traced, taxed, tested, and this is going to impose a lot of costs on the market.”

That’s one reason he expects the black market to continue to flourish, by some estimates accounting for more than 30 percent of sales, as long as legal marijuana costs significantly more than street value.

The University of California Agricultural Issues Center estimates the legal marijuana market will be worth $5 billion.


Holiday DUI Enforcement In Full Swing

December 31, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Beware if you’re planning to partake in some alcohol as part of your New Year’s celebration, because law enforcement agencies are already out in force searching for impaired drivers.

According to the LAPD, 10,497 motorists died in DUI-related crashes in the United States in 2016, with 1,059 of those in California. In Los Angeles, officers arrested 10,587 people in the same year on suspicion of driving under the influence, and 2,541 DUI-related collisions caused 1,120 serious injuries and 21 fatalities.    The LAPD and other police agencies in Los Angeles County have announced they will be saturating the streets conducting DUI patrols and checkpoints.

“This holiday season, drivers will notice increased enforcement watching closely for anyone who is driving impaired,” said officer Don Inman with traffic coordination section. “It is vital that we keep our roads and our travelers safe, not just at the holidays, but every day. With extra travelers on the roads and people celebrating, we will likely see an uptick in impaired driving. The LAPD will be arresting anyone caught driving impaired.”

Anyone arrested for driving impaired could face jail time, a suspension of driver’s license, legal and financial penalties, increased car insurance premiums, court costs, car towing expenses and more. If there is a collision that injures or kills someone, the consequences increase substantially, police said.

The Los Angeles Fire Department and Metropolitan Transportation Authority will also join forces with LAPD to spread the word to drive safely during the New Year’s weekend, and to remind motorists that “buzzed driving is drunk driving.”

The LAPD is also supporting new efforts to educate drivers that “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze.” Motorists who take prescription drugs, particularly those with a driving or operating machinery warning on the label, could be impaired enough to be arrested for DUI.

Cal NORML, a marijuana legalization advocacy group, is cautioning drivers to be aware of the impact of marijuana use on driving, as recreational use becomes legal across the state tonight at midnight.

Using marijuana can impair your ability to drive safely, NORML said in a press release. Signs of marijuana impairment include:

  • Loss of concentration and attentiveness.
  • Impaired reaction time and emergency decision-making ability.
  • Reduced peripheral vision.
  • Difficulty maintaining a constant speed, following distance, and lane position.
  • Loss of balance.
  • Getting lost even in familiar places.

The group pointed out that using cannabis edibles are “a particular dangerous to drivers since edibles typically don’t take effect for 1-2 hours or more after ingestion, and it can be difficult to know the proper dosage. A 10mg THC dose is considered a full dose for edibles, but inexperienced users are advised to start lower, between 2.5 – 5 mg. (Experienced chronic users can tolerate much higher doses.) All should take edibles only in an environment that is safe to themselves and others.”

“Two simple words can keep your holiday festivities safe: ‘plan ahead,'” said OTS director Rhonda Craft. “Before you head out to any celebration, plan how you are getting home safely. If you are drinking, that means knowing what sober driver or service will be using.”

Drivers are encouraged to download the Designated Driver VIP, or “DDVIP,” free mobile app for Android or iPhone. The DDVIP app helps find nearby bars and restaurants that feature free incentives for the designated sober driver.

Metro will be offering free rides on its buses and trains beginning at 9 p.m. New Year’s Eve and continuing until 2 a.m. Monday.

EGP Staff writers contributed to this report.

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