From a pot shop in Santa Cruz that hung a banner proclaiming “Prohibition is Over!” to one in San Diego handing out T-shirts showing the first moon landing and declaring a “giant leap for mankind,” California began its first sales of recreational marijuana Monday, the Associated Press reports. The nation’s biggest producer of illicit marijuana moved from the shadows toward a regulated market. Freebies and food greeted those who waited in long lines to get their hands on weed with names like “Oh Geezus” and “Banana Breath.” First-day sales were brisk in shops lucky enough to score one of the roughly 100 state licenses issued so far. Riverside and Fresno outlawed sales and Los Angeles and San Francisco didn’t act soon enough to authorize shops to get state licenses by New Year’s Day.
The state and local governments have a lot of work ahead to get the massive industry running that is projected to bring in $1 billion annually in tax revenue within several years. Charles Boldwyn of ShowGrow in Santa Ana is concerned that a delay in local and state approvals could create a shortage of products for consumers. He said “the red tape is a bit of a bottleneck in the supply chain.” Los Angeles officials said they won’t begin accepting license applications until Wednesday, and it might take weeks before any licenses are issued. The state banned what it called “loco-weed” in 1913, though it has eased criminal penalties for use of the drug since the 1970s and was the first state to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes in 1996.