A new day, a new year and a new era dawn all at once on January 1 in California.
When morning comes to 2018, it brings with it the first day of legal retail sales of cannabis to all adults 21 and over. California was one of four states where voters legalized adult-use marijuana possession and sales on Election Day 2016, and it will be the second to begin what’s expected to be a multi-billion-dollar market. Dispensaries in Nevada opened over the summer.
In California, where medical marijuana sales have been going on in some form since the 1990s, retail outlets that shut their doors on December 31 as medical marijuana-only will open for business as adult-use dispensaries—but this momentous occasion will not happen everywhere in the state, and not all at once.
To be one of the first people to buy legal marijuana without a medical marijuana recommendation in California—or the absolute first; someone has to be the first—you’ll have to have queued up in Berkeley, San Diego, San Jose or Santa Cruz. Or, perhaps, depending on your proximity to the sun, near Mount Shasta or way out in the southern California desert.
Only cities with locally approved rules will be able to host sales. That won’t happen on January 1 in Los Angeles nor in San Francisco, the state’s most populous city and the historic cradle of cannabis legalization, respectively. In both cities, retail adult-use sales won’t begin until a few days or possibly a week into the New Year, depending on when permits are awarded, and to whom.
Where To Buy Legal Weed In California
Luckily for them and for you, other retail outlets are ready to open their doors on January 1 to all comers. As of December 21, a total of 15 temporary adult-use licenses have been awarded to businesses scattered throughout the state. Where are they, and where should you be?
Though a few more licenses may come through before the end of the year, if you want to start planning your New Year’s dispensary excursion, these are the cities we’d recommend to book accommodations, today.
The cool and chill beach town about two hours’ drive south of San Francisco is home to what could be the nation’s oldest legal medical marijuana dispensary, the venerable Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana.
A Santa Cruz business also secured what appears to be the very first license to sell recreational cannabis in the state—and since not every city will allow dispensaries to open at the ungodly early hour of 7 a.m., Kind Peoples at 140 Dubois Street is the place to be one of the first.
Thanks to Santa Cruz’s demonstrated interest in playing host to a viable marijuana economy, Kind Peoples was able to acquire a host of licenses from the state Bureau of Cannabis Control in mid-December. This means that as lines form outside in the dawn chill, the company’s hash-manufacturing operation will be in motion behind the scenes. Exciting, and vertically integrated. Not far away from Santa Cruz is Del Ray Oaks and Monterey Bay Alternative Medicine, which also has a permit valid as of January 1, according to the state.
Purists and completists will want to stay closer to the Bay Area on January 1 in order to make a purchase from Number One—or, to be pedantic about it, 0000001, the license number assigned to Buddy’s. Securing the lowest of all numbers was “a life’s dream come true,” owner Matt Lucero told the San Jose Mercury News, and Buddy’s is stockpiling prerolls and $280 ounces of top-shelf to mark the occasion.
If you don’t care too much about the number on the permit behind the counter and are concerned instead with the number of grams in your pocket, other dispensaries in Northern California’s most populous city will be doing business on the same day. As per the state’s licensing authority, as of December 21, adult-use sales permits have been awarded to Airfield Supply and Purple Lotus Patient Center.
Berkeley And Oakland
If you’ve already booked hotel accommodations in San Francisco, you’ll want to be driving across the Bay Bridge to the cannabis-friendly East Bay on January 1—and you’ll want to be doing it before sun-up. Both Oakland and Berkeley will have at least one dispensary opening its doors at 6 a.m.
The state’s oldest continuously operating medical marijuana dispensary will be open for adult-use business at 6 a.m., meaning Berkeley Patients Group is a likely venue for the first legal gram in California—and the attendant gangs of television journalists eager to collect a sound bite from that early-rising cannabis consumer.
But that’s only if they’re somehow slower to the starting line than Purple Heart over in Oakland, which is also planning on opening at 6 a.m. Which to choose? There are a few days left to plan, and a few days left for other dispensaries to acquire a license and join the throng, and the growing gang of people who will claim to buy the first legal gram in the state.
For those Californians living in the south, San Diego is the place to be buying marijuana on January 1. The biggest city in the state to take recreational cannabis seriously, San Diego will have at least five dispensaries open on January 1, according to state authorities: Mankind Cooperative, THCSD, A Green Alternative, Urbn Leaf, and Torrey Holistics. (Torrey Holistics, if you really really want to be serious about Number 1, also has a “0000001” permit, though for a retailer and not a microbusiness like Buddy’s. Don’t you love wonkiness?)
It’s not clear which will be the first to open its doors—and most appear to have normal operating hours starting at 9 a.m., but it’s nice to know that you could acquire an armload of legal marijuana all on the same morning without leaving the city.
The Desert, The Coast Or The Mountains
Travelers willing to go further afield or those locals who happen to sleep near Mount Shasta in far-northern California, the foggy Humboldt County coast or Desert Hot Springs in the vast sandy expanse between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, will be able to score legal weed on January 1. And should you truly be dedicated to buying legal weed in as many places as possible, you could, in theory, buy in the desert or mountains AND at the coast on the same day. Only in California, bro.
530 Cannabis in Shasta Lake, Ecological Cannabis Organization in Eureka and Green Pearl Organics in Desert Hot Springs all have licenses active as of January 1. All this to say that if your New Years’ plans involve skiing, camping or stalking Thomas Pynchon, you can also buy some legal cannabis.