If you are a fan of marijuana you might be looking forward to 2018 for another reason – the sale of pot will be legal on Jan. 1, 2018.

2018 Pot Laws in California

When Proposition 64 passed the state legislature January 1, 2018 was designated it the official opening of the adult-use marijuana market in California.

While pot users state-wide are excited, it appears that the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), the agency which licenses the dispensaries in the state, is also excited.

“I know this sounds crazy, but we’re looking forward to Jan. 1,” said Lori Ajax, who heads the state’s BCC.

“This is what we’ve been waiting for, what we’ve been training for,” she said. “It’s time.”

Here are some answers to any questions you might have regarding the sale of pot in California.

As of January 1, can I walk into a California dispensary to buy pot?

The answer is “yes” as long as you are over the age of 21 and the dispensary you are at has a temporary license that has been issued from the state.

Temporary licenses will be available in December and will become valid on January 1.
Still, you will not be able to buy pot until 6 a.m. on January 1 due to a state rule that says retailers can only sell or deliver cannabis between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Where can I buy pot?

The availability of pot will be largely based on where you live. In fact, the nearest dispensary might not be near you.

“There’s only a handful of cities that are embracing it,” said Jason Elsasser, a marijuana industry advocate in Desert Hot Springs. Desert Hot Springs has earned the nickname “Desert Pot Springs” for its acceptance of marijuana businesses. In addition to Desert Hot Springs, Oakland and a few others have formed recreational marijuana rules ahead of Jan. 1.

In cities around the Sacramento area and San Jose, you might have a harder time finding a dispensary as those cities are still weighing in on whether or not to lift their bans on recreational pot.

Where can I smoke?

Across the state, a go-to rule is that you can’t smoke pot anywhere you can’t smoke a cigarette.

That means you can’t smoke in indoor workplaces, including bars. You might not even be able to smoke in your home if you are renting. Pot users also cannot smoke in cars. Using the drug in a moving vehicle or having an open bag in the car are both illegal.

Under Prop 64 local governments are allowing marijuana consumption at retailers and companies with a microbusiness license, which combines a small cultivation site, distribution and retail. In these instances, the business has to restrict the premises to people 21 and older, can’t allow alcohol or tobacco use on site and must make sure no one can see people consuming marijuana from outside.

Will all California medicinal dispensaries go recreational?


Not every dispensary that is open today will be granted a temporary or annual license to sell recreational pot. This is due to the fact that some dispensaries already operate without the blessing of their local government. To receive a temporary license under the new law, retailers have to show the BCC they already have permission to operate from their home city.
“The main thing is, they have to have that local approval,” Ajax said.

Once dispensaries have the proper paperwork that proves they are approved for operation, the BCC will go back to the city to check that it’s valid.

Dispensaries that are already selling medicinal marijuana will also need to choose whether they want a medicinal license, an adult-use license or both. If selling both, the dispensary will need to label its merchandise accordingly; “A” for adult or “M” for medicinal. The shop will also need to keep separate transaction records.

Can I try the product before I buy the product?

Currently, dispensaries will offer a sample before the client buys the product. This is similar to how an ice cream shop will offer a free taste. This practice will need to be reconsidered after January 1 due to the fact that only product in tamper evident, child resistant packaging can sell.

“It’s no longer going to be taking the bud out of a used pickle jar and letting the patient sniff it and get their nastys all over it if they sneeze,” said John Chaisson, the co-owner of Atomic Budz in Cathedral City.

Customers should not expect that retailers will give away free samples. With few exceptions, marijuana freebies are prohibited by law.

Are there quality controls in place for pot sold in California?

State law requires new testing procedures, so yes. “Everything is going to have to be tested by a third party and a lot of people are not going to be able to get through that,” Chaisson said.

Before a cannabis distributor can ship its stock, a laboratory will be required to test samples for things like mold, pesticide residue and bacteria. Labs will also check for compounds like CBD and THC, two of the cannabinoids found in marijuana. Products must be labeled to show weight as well as THC and CBD content.

What happens to pot products available before Jan. 1?

Retailers that have temporary license, which lasts 120 days with the option for extensions, will have some leeway when it comes to selling any inventory that is in stock before 2018.

That means customers might still be able to buy products that haven’t been tested. Customers might also be able to buy product that violates state law after January 1. For example, pot gummy bears that risk “appealing to children.”

Will I notice any changes at California pot shops?

There will be some subtle changes at California dispensaries, but they will be minimal most likely. For example, some retailers might start requiring employees to wear ID badges.

These will be subtle changes though.

“Things are not really going to change that drastically on Jan. 1 (for consumers),” Elsasser said. “There’s going to be a lot of people turning in their applications to the state of California… but that’s behind the scenes.”

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