Cannabis is Legal in California. What’s Changed?

Hey there! Don’t mind me, I’ve just been away from my blog since LAST SUMMER – ugh.

Working in the cannabis industry comes with some added perks, as well as obstacles – such as the period of complete uncertainty at the end of 2018 as we approached full-on legalization in California.

If you missed the transition, you might be surprised to learn that many of your favorite California cannabis brands are now out of business (or in limbo). The state enacted a set of new regulations that most of our industry couldn’t, or didn’t want to, adhere to. The dispensary experience here has definitely changed, and our industry now has to adhere to a strict set of standards, just like the other commercially legal states (Colorado, Washington, and Oregon). Needless to say, not everyone is happy with the changes.

Kind of hard to blog with all that drama, right?

I thought so. There was a time when I didn’t even want to seek out new products to review, because I knew they might be off the shelves within months.

Now, I think I’m ready to reset. We are starting to get a much clearer idea of what’s unfolding here in California, the world’s cannabis capital. In fact, I just went last week and made my first legal purchase without a medical card! What a milestone.

I think it’s safe to say, I’ve given myself the green light to start writing about this brave new world. Read on for some of the most significant changes since January 1.

Changes in the Lingo

While lots of people are referring to “recreational” weed, people in the know are calling it “adult use.”

Think about it. Not everyone is using cannabis to treat a medical condition. However, the assumption seems to be that everyone else is using it just to party and get high.

Using the term “recreational” totally downplays the fact that many adults are using cannabis responsibly as part of their wellness plan; maybe more like a supplement than a medicine or a party drug.

Normalizing the language around cannabis helps normalize its use. So next time, whip out the term “adult-use cannabis legalization” and lead your social circle by example.

Changes with Products

A couple of big changes have swept dispensary shelves, and it’s important to know how your product options have evolved.

For one, you might notice that product packaging has changed. Child locks will soon be mandatory on every product. For now, they’ve thought of all kinds of creative ways to make their containers less appealing to kids and conceal what the product actually looks like inside.

What’s inside infused products has changed as well. Edibles now face a total potency limit of 100mg THC. They used to be unlimited, under California’s old medical cannabis laws! There’s also a rule on portion sizes. Each edible must have clearly marked 10mg portions so people know what a true dose looks like.

The dosage cap is a huge blow to chronic pain patients like me. I used to prefer buying edibles above 200mg. Why? So I could break them into 4 or 5 evenly dosed pieces of 50mg THC for a solid pain-relieving effect. 10mg pieces are fine, I just have to eat 4 or 5 of them.

Unfortunately, the common assumption is that nobody could EVER possibly need that much in one sitting. Now, even with the strongest edible in the store I can only get 2 real doses out of it. And paying more sales tax to boot!

Smart consumers know that an edible won’t kill you, but new cannabis users often make silly mistakes with dosing, leading to adverse edible experiences. That’s why it’s so important that we keep educating state regulators on how these products work. 

Changes with Retail

Okay, I can accept all the changes with products, since I can go and pick them up literally anywhere I want. Right?

Wrong. A majority of California’s storefront dispensaries are actually illegal now!

Much like what happened in Colorado, there are dozens of cities and counties in California that want nothing to do with legal weed. They’ve banned commercial activity or limited it to a handful of licensed shops. It’s important to check which ones in your area have actually been issued licenses to operate, using the California BCC license lookup.

Any other store operating on the down low is at risk for being shut down by the government. I’m sure they are all great people – but if you are looking for safe, regulated product and consistent long-term service as part of the new legal cannabis system – stick with licensed shops only.

You will probably also notice that you have to pay a lot more in taxes for your product – up to 35 percent in some cities. To steer clear of some of these, you can legitimize your medical patient status by obtaining a special ID card (MMIC) from your county. Medical “recommendations” will not be valid for long without the official state-issued MMIC (medical marijuana ID card).

How about cannabis home delivery? Unfortunately, it looks like that part of our industry is taking a huge loss, as most cities in California refuse to offer a path to legalization for delivery services.

In San Diego and most other cities, you can only get a legal cannabis delivery from a licensed storefront.

I rarely use delivery services, but in a time crunch, I always use Eaze. They partner with licensed stores in several California cities. You can use my link to sign up with them and get a discount on your first order.

Changes with Events

Remember when I filled you in on the rise of secret California cannabis events? Well, get ready for them to become even more secretive in 2018.

Cannabis events will pretty much only be allowed on public fairgrounds or agricultural sites (no more cannabis farmer’s markets in Malibu). That’s great for big shows and conferences, but small private events will be pushed back into secret venues and private residences, with little marketing or advertising to avoid scrutiny.

You might have to hone your skills as a social media secret agent to even find out about these events. But in my opinion, that’s part of the fun of being part of this subculture! 

One thing you can count on is that the company I represent, Sensi Magazine, will be throwing events in Southern California all year long. Admittedly, they will be light on the cannabis consumption, but heavy on the culture.

We just launched and our inaugural parties will take place in mid-March! I hope to see you at one of these! RSVP on Facebook below.

// Sensi Night: Los Angeles. Wednesday March 14

// Sensi Night: Orange County. Thursday March 15

// Sensi Night: San Diego (MY MAGAZINE!). Friday March 16

You also need to check out The Seed Series by DCN, if you’re here in San Diego. Think classy socializing and networking, along with hard hitting TED-style talks.

That’s all I can think of for now, as far as being relevant to the everyday cannabis consumer.

Have any other questions about legalization? Comment them here and I’ll do my best to answer! 

3 thoughts on “Cannabis is Legal in California. What’s Changed?

  1. Larry Lipman says:

    Well written!
    Why is the state not allowing private financial institutions to operate and instead pushing on its own state bank that they already received testimony costs too much money to start, takes years to build and has no guarantee the FED will approve it

    Liked by 1 person

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