Each new year brings new driving or transportation-related laws in
California and 2018 is no exception. We'd like to share these new laws
with readers in the next few columns.
Marijuana and edible cannabis use in vehicles, Senate Bill 65:
Recreational marijuana/cannabis is now legal to be purchased and
consumed in certain places, but that doesn't mean you can light up a
joint on your daily commute.
Consuming cannabis while driving or while riding as a passenger in a
vehicle in California is illegal. This new law is similar to the "open
container" laws that outlaw drinking alcohol while driving, though
having some alcohol in your system while driving isn't outlawed.
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Marijuana legalization arrives Monday in California with lots of
hoopla, but only a handful of cities will initially have retail
outlets ready to sell recreational pot.
By Thursday afternoon, California had issued only 42 retail licenses.
Another 150 applications were pending and regulators planned to work a
second straight weekend to review them.
Los Angeles and San Francisco were late to approve local regulations,
meaning no recreational pot shops there will open their doors Monday.
The lucky few outlets with licenses -- mainly in San Diego, the San
Francisco Bay Area, Palm Springs area and Santa Cruz -- think they
have an edge being first out of the gate.
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California legalizes marijuana for recreational use Monday, but that
won't stop federal agents from seizing the drug -- even in tiny
amounts -- on busy freeways and backcountry highways.
Marijuana possession still will be prohibited at eight Border Patrol
checkpoints in California, a reminder that state and federal laws
collide when it comes to pot. The U.S. government classifies marijuana
as a controlled substance, like heroin and LSD.
"Prior to Jan. 1, it's going to be the same after Jan. 1, because
nothing changed on our end," said Ryan Yamasaki, an assistant chief of
the Border Patrol's San Diego sector. "If you're a federal law
enforcement agency, you uphold federal laws."
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In advance of the legalization of recreational marijuana sales on Jan.
1, there have been lots of debates over the details of the cannabis
business. How many feet should pot shops be from schools or daycare
centers? How many acres may a marijuana farmer cultivate? Who should
be eligible for a license to sell and who shouldn't?
But there's been much less discussion over an equally important question
raised by the end of prohibition in California: What is the right public
health message to send to adults who can now legally buy and use
marijuana? Voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 64 last year and
polls continue to show broad support for legalization. But just because
marijuana is legal doesn't mean it is risk-free.
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - At a state briefing on environmental rules
that await growers entering California's soon-to-be-legal marijuana
trade, organic farmers Ulysses Anthony, Tracy Sullivan and Adam Mernit
listened intently, eager to make their humble cannabis plot a model of
sustainable agriculture in a notoriously destructive industry
dominated by the black market.
In line with a 2017 study that found marijuana grows are more
damaging, plot for plot, than commercial logging in Northern
California forests, Anthony said he has seen too many destructive
grows. Trash-strewn clearings. Growers heaping fertilizer at the foot
of a centuries-old sequoia tree, needlessly endangering it. Wild
streams diverted for irrigation.
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Cannabis 101: Here's what you need to know about recreational
With recreational marijuana becoming available for sale on New Year's
Day, you may be asking yourself: Do I want to try this stuff?
If you have never used cannabis, or if it has been a long time since
you have, you need to know that pot isn't just consumed through joints
and bongs anymore. Consumers also use vape pens, edibles and other
And marijuana has higher amounts of THC -- pot's psychoactive
ingredient -- than it once did. In the early 1990s, the average amount
of THC in confiscated marijuana samples was roughly 3.7 percent,
according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Now, many retail
strains test in the high 20s and some even top 30 percent.
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Some details of legalized recreational marijuana have changed since
California voters approved Proposition 64 in 2016.
California is days away from launching a legal marketplace for adults
to buy and sell recreational marijuana. On Jan. 1, the state will
carry through on a vision voters endorsed by passing Proposition 64
Yet as legal cannabis moves from campaign pitch to reality - amid lots
of lobbying by industry groups along the way - some details of the
plan have changed. State regulators approved the official rules last
month and will update them in about a year.
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For Jack in the Box Inc., the warm smell of marijuana is rising in the
As California prepares for legal recreational pot on Jan. 1, the
fast-food chain is partnering with a digital media company backed by
rapper Snoop Dogg on a new "munchie" meal aimed at cannabis
enthusiasts. While marijuana's connection to fast food is
well-established, Jack in the Box will become the first national chain
to explicitly embrace the drug.
The "Merry Munchie Meal," which will be available at three California
locations for a week in January for $4.20, features two tacos, french
fries, onion rings, five mini churros, three chicken strips and a
small drink. The price isn't random: The number 420 is used as a code
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- A marijuana activist whose advocacy dates
to the 1960s counterculture has been arrested in California toting 22
pounds of illegal marijuana, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Irvin Dana Beal, 70, of New York, was arrested Saturday in far
Northern California after prosecutors said his rental car was spotted
weaving across the road and driving 20 miles below the speed limit.
James Statzer, 51, of Michigan, also was arrested.
The arrest occurred along a well-traveled highway in California's
famed Emerald Triangle area, known for its high-grade pot. A police
dog smelled marijuana during the stop and 22 pounds of the drug was
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In a dark room, Jahful Price slowly worked a row of pungent plants
guided by his headlamp.
He wore a white biohazard suit, methodically picking up cannabis
plants by their stems and hanging them upside down on a rack with
plastic clothes hangers.
Price, a 31-year-old Oakland resident who is black, is getting
hands-on experience in cannabis cultivating that he hopes will help
him run his own business one day.
Since July, he's had a paid internship at NUG, a cannabis business
owned by Bloom Innovations, a horticulture consulting and management
firm in Oakland. NUG chose Nine Mile Tribe, a business owned by
Price's family, as one of its equity partners.
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At the two malls in town you can buy key chains and Christmas
ornaments shaped like marijuana leaves. Along a downtown shopping
corridor, paintings of cannabis plants grace storefront windows.
Even Kmart stocks its shelves with T-shirts and mugs decorated with
the signature green leaf and "Colorado est. 2012" -- the year the
state legalized recreational marijuana.
But that is the one pot product you can't buy in Colorado Springs.
When Coloradans voted overwhelmingly to make non-medical marijuana
legal, they left it up to cities whether to allow sales. Colorado
Springs, home to five military bases and known for its conservative
politics and religious values, blocked recreational cannabis sales.
Now some in town want to change that, saying the state's second
largest city is missing out on sales taxes that are enriching cities
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Medical marijuana dispensaries and other portions of the medicinal
cannabis supply chain could be legal in Fresno as the result of a
unanimous vote Thursday by the City Council.
The 7-0 vote begins the process of rewriting the city's complete ban
on commercial marijuana operations that was adopted earlier this year.
It will likely be several months, however, before drafts emerge for
ordinances and rules that will govern where and how businesses that
cultivate, process, manufacture, distribute or sell medical marijuana
can operate within the city.
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Two legislators called Tuesday for changes to regulations for growing
marijuana in California to better protect small family farmers from
being driven out of business by big corporate cultivators.
Initial proposals to cap licensed marijuana farms at one to four acres
were discarded by the state Department of Food and Agriculture, which
has since proposed new rules without any cap, according to a letter of
complaint to the agency by State Sen. Mike McGuire (D-San Rafael) and
Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg). McGuire and Wood support a
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When a rising Chinese American power broker became a partner in a
proposed cannabis dispensary in San Francisco's Outer Sunset, he knew
it would hit resistance.
But David Ho sees himself as the perfect emissary to the mostly older
Chinese residents and merchants who are deeply skeptical of the pot
"I'm the working-class, westside Asian American story," said Ho, who
is a co-owner of the Barbary Coast medical cannabis dispensary that
has applied to open at 2161 Irving St., on a block lined with grocery
stores, dry cleaning shops and banks.
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For 17 years, Chalfonte LeNee Queen suffered periodic episodes of
violent retching and abdominal pain that would knock her off her feet
for days, sometimes leaving her writhing on the floor in pain.
"I've screamed out for death," said Queen, 48, who lives in San Diego.
"I've cried out for my mom who's been dead for 20 years, mentally not
realizing she can't come to me."
Queen lost a modeling job after being mistaken for an alcoholic. She
racked up tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills, and her
nausea interrupted her sex life. Towards the end of her illness,
Queen, who stands 5-foot-9, weighed in at a frail 109 pounds.
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There's hardly a more receptive or captive audience for marketing an
intoxicant than the beleaguered commuters crowded onto a rush-hour
Muni bus (except perhaps the ones packed onto a rush-hour BART train).
But unlike many of the dopey regulations proliferating ahead of
California's legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes in
2018, Muni's decision to ban cannabis advertising makes sense.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's board voted
Tuesday to ban recreational marijuana advertising and stop accepting
medical marijuana ads once current contracts expire. The policy is in
keeping with Muni's refusal of alcohol, tobacco and firearms
advertising in light of the number of children who ride city buses and
trains. It's also in line with statewide regulations that prohibit
cannabis advertising that targets children or reaches audiences with
large numbers of young people.
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VICTORVILLE - San Bernardino County Sheriff's Deputies seized 3,475
marijuana plants after serving search warrants at four High Desert
locations Friday, the agency announced Saturday.
All of the marijuana grows were not in compliance with the California
medical marijuana law or other ordinances, the sheriff's department
said in a statement.
At three of the four locations investigators found that the illegal
growers had tampered with the main power lines at residences to bypass
the electrical meters installed by the utility company, allowing the
theft of electricity needed to operate equipment used to grow marijuana.
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State Sen. Scott Wiener, who has adopted the cannabis industry as one
of his major concerns, is taking aim at new state regulations for
recreational marijuana that will allow for big growing operations in
"By not limiting the amount of land that can be cultivated by any one
operation, we are basically inviting mega industrial-scale operations
into the state," the San Francisco Democrat said. "It will squeeze out
the small farmers that have been at the forefront of the industry for
many, many years."
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The Sacramento City Council on Tuesday approved funding sources for
increased law enforcement against illegal indoor pot grows, following
a two-month pilot program that led to the closure of 614 pot houses.
The city expects to spend between $700,000 and $1.1 million on police
efforts to stop the approximately 1,000 illegal grows in Sacramento
houses in the fiscal year ending June 30.
The city will pay those costs with tax revenue collected from legal
marijuana businesses, which are expected to start operating sometime
after Jan. 1, when adults can purchase pot for recreational use
statewide. The city plans to supplement that tax revenue with
administrative fines collected from illegal pot growers.
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Demonized for decades, marijuana remains controversial even on the
brink of its statewide legalization - and even in pot-friendly
strongholds such as San Francisco. The city is one of many still
debating local regulations that will either embrace an overdue retreat
from the drug war or effectively prolong the failed policy at the
For vacillating municipal officials, some context is in order. This
week alone, New Jersey and Virginia voters resoundingly elected
gubernatorial candidates promising to liberalize marijuana policy;
Constellation Brands, a Fortune 500 seller of many popular wine and
beer brands, was reported to have bought a nearly $200 million stake
in a Canadian cannabis company; and California's attorney general
approved signature-gathering for a ballot measure to legalize
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