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California Begins Recreational Cannabis Sales

It’s Jan. 1, 2018 and all eyes are on California. The country’s most populous state officially began allowing legal recreational cannabis sales today, and the industry is anxious to see how it all unfolds. A host of issues are still unresolved, and some new regulations have small cannabis growers up in arms. But Lori Ajax, the head of the head of California’s Cannabis Control Bureau, says the state is committed to making the process work.

Temporary Licenses

To meet the January 1 deadline, the Cannabis Control Bureau in September announced it would be issuing temporary licences to recreational cannabis businesses that would take effect on the first day of 2018. The approvals are being sent via email, and businesses can simply print them out. They’re good for four months from the issue date, and can be extended for an additional 90 days — longer if the state drops the ball and permanent licenses are delayed. Regulators worked through the weekend to ensure that applications were processed on time.

But that doesn’t mean there weren’t bumps in the road. According to a report from Leafly, Kimberly Cargile, the owner-operator of A Therapeutic Alternative in Sacramento, was panic-stricken when she had not received her permit from the state as of Friday night. Unaware that applications would be processed through the holiday weekend, she feared her shop would have to close down on the 1st. Fortunately, she pulled a few strings and learned that her application was approved late on Friday and opened on New Year’s Day as planned. And, she told Leafly, sales were good. By 1 p.m., she had served 122 customers, four times as many as she normally saw when she sold only medicinal products.

Sales were brisk in Coachella Valley, too, home to three of the state’s hottest tourist destinations, Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Desert Hot Springs. Unlike Los Angeles and San Francisco, which have yet to issue licenses for recreational cannabis sales, the three resort towns avoided backlogs by simply converting all of their medical marijuana licenses to adult-use licenses as of January 1. Thus, most of the area’s cannabis retailers were open for business on New Year’s Day.

A few dispensaries across the state had big events planned for January 1, including Harborside Health in Oakland, which offered donuts and coffee, a brass band, and door prizes to the first 100 customers. And in San Jose, Caliva was offering door prizes, massage and acupuncture stations, morning coffee, food trucks throughout the day, and a DJ in the afternoon.

Not All Cities in Board

Still, opening day ceremonies for recreational cannabis businesses were not on the agenda for all cities in the Golden State. Some, like San Francisco and Los Angeles, were simply too slow to get regulations approved, but expected to allow stores to open within the next week. The same goes for San Bernardino and Santa Ana, which should see stores opening later this month. But at the same time, a fair number of large cities have opted to ban recreational cannabis stores entirely, including Anaheim, Bakersfield, Fresno, Long Beach, Riverside and Stockton. Unincorporated Los Angeles and Orange Counties have also voted not to allow adult-use stores.

About the Carmoon Group

The Carmoon Group is a Hicksville, New York-based insurance brokerage that has been serving small and medium-sized businesses across the United States for over 20 years. And as of 2017, we’ve begun insuring cannabis businesses, including growers, distributors, retailers, dispensaries, landlords and physicians. So why not give us a call today to see how we can help you protect your assets with our comprehensive insurance plans. Or if you’d rather we contact you, just reach out online and we’ll get back to you at a convenient time.

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Floyd Arthur

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