California’s green rush is on as state legalizes recreational marijuana sales

The new year brought with it a big change in California – the legalization of recreational marijuana. Adults, 21 and over, are now allowed to buy cannabis products at licensed dispensaries without a medical card.

CGTN’s May Lee has more.

The celebrations have begun across the state of California as recreational use of marijuana is now officially legal. Customers stood in long lines at licensed dispensaries to be the first to buy cannabis products openly.

“It’s a historic moment” said one shopper. “We were in line for an hour and a half, and I think it’s great that I’m able to come in and do this today. It is a great day.”

At Alternative Herbal Health Services, also known as AhhsWeho, in West Hollywood, business has been brisk. Dina Browner, one of AhhsWeho’s founding partners, is a pioneer in the world of cannabis, having led the way when it was thought of as nothing but an illicit drug.

Browner recalls, “We started here 15 years ago, and I actually started the first, opening the very first doctor’s office that specialized in medical cannabis recommendations in Los Angeles.”

So well-known is Browner’s dispensary that it’s the role model for the Netflix comedy series “Disjointed”. For real-life AhhsWeho customers, the legalization of marijuana gives them, not only more freedom, but also serious relief.

Robert Hughes is a combat veteran who served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2005 to 2009 said he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He added, “I think it should have been something available a long time ago especially for troops that are coming back that are suffering from mental illnesses.”

There are, however, concerns that the legalization of marijuana will boost a black market because the price of legal cannabis is now higher due to taxes and other costs. Another concern- Will there be legal clashes among federal, state and city jurisdictions that have differing marijuana laws?

Twilla Frosco, a tourist from Oklahoma, isn’t sure what’s in store when she tries to return home with her cannabis, but she said, “I’m going to figure it out.”

Though there are still many unknowns when it comes to the marijuana laws here in California, there’s one thing that isn’t really being questioned and that is the potential size of the market. It’s predicted to grow to about seven billion dollars in a few years. That’s much bigger than the entire market was in the U.S. in 2016.

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