HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html For Marijuana Users, It's High Times As California Makes
Pubdate: Tue, 02 Jan 2018
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2018 Los Angeles Times
Author:  Marisa Gerber


"Groove on! Groove on!" blared from speakers outside a gray warehouse
in Santa Ana. Inside, a line of 60 people snaked through the shop,
waiting to be helped by a budtender.

"We were bombarded!" said Robert Taft Jr., founder of the marijuana
dispensary 420 Central.

When the shop opened at 7 a.m. Monday -- Day 1 of legal recreational
pot sales in California -- a handful of people had already lined up.
Within two hours, more than 100 customers, some still nursing holiday
hangovers, had made purchases. As they walked out, Taft shouted,
"Enjoy your new freedom!"

Californians voted to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016, and the
historic law permitting such businesses took effect New Year's Day --
creating the largest legal pot market in the country. Hundreds of
businesses have applied for temporary licenses, but industry officials
expect a slow roll out as many cities have not yet given their
approval. While the city of L.A. hasn't begun issuing licenses to pot
shops, some dispensaries are expected to open in West Hollywood on

On Monday, San Francisco businesses weren't open for commercial sales
of pot, but Berkeley was ready. One of the United States' oldest
dispensaries, the Berkeley Patients Group, opened its doors at 6 a.m.
to a line of customers that snaked around the block and showed no
signs of abating by late afternoon.

Among the many celebrants were Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin and state
Sen. Nancy Skinner, who cut a ceremonial green ribbon to mark the first 

Sean Luse, chief operating officer of Berkeley Patients Group, said
some people had traveled from the Central Valley and towns in the
Sierra foothills to visit the dispensary.

"I'd say the crowd size is about three or four times what we would
typically see," Luse said. "Now that it's mainstream and open to
anyone 21-plus, you have a different dynamic. People are coming in
groups or as families -- it feels festive today."

In San Diego, the wait stretched to 40 minutes at the Mankind

"We're insane down here. And it's still going on, girlfriend,"
marketing director Cathy Bliss said.

Store workers were handing out commemorative T-shirts showing
astronauts on the moon and the phrase "A giant leap for mankind."

California's new marijuana law allows sales to people from out of
state. Bliss welcomed buyers from Iowa, Kansas and Canada.

Overall, she was thrilled. "This is so cool," she said.

Back inside 420 Central, customers hunched over the glass counter,
inspecting different flavors of pot -- Grape Kryptonite, Girl Scout
Cookies, Mega Queso. Prefer edibles? Budtenders pointed to a pack of
dark chocolate covered espresso beans for $18. The nearby tip jar
reads, "Hate to be BLUNT WEED love a tip."

Customers got in line at various outlets to buy such things as
pre-rolled joints and topical creams and foods infused with marijuana.

As Lucas Starr, 33, perused the shop, he thought about how much
perceptions of marijuana had shifted during his lifetime. Growing up,
the message from his parents and from society, he said, was that
marijuana was a dangerous drug -- a gateway toward a wrecked life. He
thought back to the PSA commercials showing a fried egg and an
announcer intoning, "This is your brain on drugs." Starr, a musician
and producer visiting from Dallas, said he initially bought into the
fear, but eventually smoked marijuana and found that it calmed his

Customer Judy Malgeri, 65, also finds marijuana therapeutic. She uses
it to manage pain and bring back her appetite during chemotherapy for
ovarian cancer. Although she already had a medicinal-marijuana card,
she said she was very happy to see recreational pot legalized --
anything that brings marijuana further into the mainstream, she said,
is a good thing.

"It's about time," she said, shaking her head at the memory of an era
when police hassled people over a single seed of marijuana in a car.
"Arrested for a joint? That's so sad. It's a fruit of the Earth."

Recreational marijuana is scheduled to go on sale at licensed stores
in California on January 1st, or shortly thereafter, depending on the

Here's what you need to know about buying and using so-called "adult
use" cannabis.

Q: How much marijuana can I purchase?

A: You can buy 1 ounce of...

Recreational marijuana is scheduled to go on sale at licensed stores
in California on January 1st, or shortly thereafter, depending on the

Here's what you need to know about buying and using so-called "adult
use" cannabis.

Q: How much marijuana can I purchase?

A: You can buy 1 ounce of... (Gary Robbins)

Despite the new law, marijuana still straddles the line of public
acceptability, and there was palpable apprehension among some
customers Monday.

When a man with graying hair and a Bluetooth headset walked inside the
shop, he left his sunglasses on and did a double-take when he noticed
a TV cameraman nearby. Asked what he was interested in, the man
laughed nervously, saying, "It's been a while," adding that he
recalled enjoying edibles.

He settled on a container of cannabis-infused sea salt caramel candies
and pulled $20 out of his wallet. "I think this might be a one-time
thing," the man said, laughing. The budtender smiled, telling him he
was always welcome.

Approached by a reporter as he left the store, the man gasped. "Oh my
God!" He continued, "No, I'm not here."

Earlier in the morning, Gary Goforth walked out of the shop smiling.
His trip to the dispensary hadn't been planned, but while walking to
breakfast, a man pulled up next to him and asked, "Hey, where's 420?"

Goforth hadn't heard of the shop, but offered to look up the location
on his phone and ride along with the man to help him navigate. As a
thank you, the stranger bought him a gram of indica.

The 27-year-old bartender -- who said he sold marijuana during college
to pay his rent -- said legalization was a necessary step.

"It's a new future," he said, adding that he hopes to get a job at the
shop. "Why not move up in the ranks in something you enjoy?"

Back inside, Taft, the founder, smiled as he watched the line growing
in the lobby.

"Weed the people should be proud," he said, delivering the first word
with emphasis, so you know he didn't misspeak. "Red and blue turns
into green when we come together. We can change any law we want."

Taft then began to reminisce about how the dispensary, which opened in
2015 as a medical-marijuana shop, got its start. Back when he was
hunting for a building, his friend who works in real estate showed him
the warehouse. Taft thought it was too big -- it reminded him of
Costco, not a dispensary.

But moments later, he looked up at the address numbers on the side of
the warehouse -- 420. He turned to ask his friend what street they
were on. "Central," the friend responded.

"So you're telling me this is 420 Central?" Taft asked.

His friend fell to his knees in shock.
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