It was difficult to tell if it was the sighting of a singer or the book signing of a famous author that caused lines around the block near Los Angeles on Tuesday. Turns out it wasn't either. It was weed. Or rather, the legalization of it. People lined up for hours outside of one the only dispensaries in the L.A. area allowed to sell it to get their first taste of a legal high.
"I'm just chilling with all these good people trying to get some herb," said Kenny Route, who was waiting in line at MedMen in West Hollywood, California.
Starting on January 1st, the sale of recreational marijuana across the state was made legal. But not all dispensaries have licenses yet. MedMen in West Hollywood is one of two to have a permit in Los Angeles County. The City of Los Angeles is still in the process of rolling out licenses, while cities like San Francisco plan to start sales this Friday.
"It's really cool to just be able to go into a store and not have the weird complications of trying to obtain it illegally."
"We had to get rid of all of the transparent packaging that was in the store," said Deniel Yi, director of corporate communications for MedMen. "So December 31, while a lot of people were drinking champagne, celebrating New Year's, a lot of our staff people were at the store making sure that all the products you see in the stores were compliant."
Lookee Here, #Marijuana just became Legal & Everyone is rushing in for their Stash @ShopMedMen #MedMen #weho #CaliforniaCannabis #cyclists #foto #photography #street #photojournalism #BREAKING #santamonicablvd #socal #onlyinLA #WestHollywood #LosAngeles #California pic.twitter.com/0bVzTPbyiL— Abraham Torres (@RumbleSkout3) January 2, 2018
MedMen says it saw four times more people than it usually does at its Santa Ana, California, store on January 1.
Legalization comes with a lot of caveats. You have to be 21 to buy, but you can't smoke it in public. Local governments can make their own rules, too.
"I'm from Florida, and I'm used to all the extreme, strict laws," said Kenny Route. "But it's so different here. And it's really cool to just be able to go into a store and not have the weird complications of trying to obtain it illegally."
Legal marijuana sales are expected to add about $5 billion to the California economy this year, increasing tourism to the state, too, according to a study by UC Davis.
"I'm from Texas," said 21-year-old Marissa Davis. "And I think it's a lot safer to get it from a dispensary because that way you'll know it's not gonna be laced with anything."
California is now the largest state in the nation to legalize cannabis sales.
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