CALIFORNIA: Legal Recreational Marijuana Sales Begin

The Associated Press reports:

Californians may awake on New Year’s Day to a stronger-than-normal whiff of marijuana as America’s cannabis king lights up to celebrate the state’s first legal retail pot sales.

The historic day comes more than two decades after California paved the way for legal weed by passing the nation’s first medical marijuana law, though other states were quicker to allow the drug’s recreational use.

From the small town of Shasta Lake just south of Oregon to San Diego on the Mexican border, the first of about 90 shops licensed by the state opened Monday to customers who previously needed a medical reason or a dope dealer to score pot.

More from Reuters:

With California and its 39.5 million residents officially joining the pack, more than one-in-five Americans now live in states where recreational marijuana is legal for purchase, even though cannabis remains classified as an illegal narcotic under U.S. law.

The marijuana market in California alone, which boasts the world’s sixth-largest economy, is valued by most experts at several billion dollars annually and is expected to generate at least a $1 billion a year in tax revenue.

“Adding California to the regulated [recreational] market for cannabis is a really big deal,” said Heather Azzi, a senior attorney for the Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy group working to liberalize marijuana laws.