2018 laws have affected marijuana consumers and culture


Rebecca Olmos,
Staff Writer

I’ve been smoking cannabis since I was 16. I’ve come to appreciate it for both its medical and recreational benefits.

Medically, it helps with my anxiety when life gets overwhelming. Recreationally, it doesn’t leave me with a massive hangover if I decide to overdo it with my friends. I’m glad that in 2018 everyone can now experience the same benefits that I’ve enjoyed. However, I find myself irritated that legalization has brought about new changes.

Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act passed by California voters in 2016, has changed the cannabis culture in the state. Anyone over 21 can now take a trip to recreationally friendly dispensary to buy their cannabis, but for those of us who bought medical cannabis and smoked it proudly for years, it’s difficult because it feels like everyone is jumping on the weed bandwagon.

The lines at my local dispensary are twice as long as they once were, especially on nights and weekends. An experience I used to love, now I dread. In addition to the long lines and extended wait times, cannabis taxes have driven up prices.

Legalization laws also limit cannabis companies’ ability to offer their products in dispensaries. California law requires cultivators, manufacturers, retailers, distributors, microbusinesses, testing laboratories and event organizers to all have valid licenses. Without proper paperwork, companies cannot sell or distribute their products to consumers or dispensaries.

I went to pick up my favorite edibles and was disappointed when I found out that they were no longer on the menu. When I inquired about why, the bud tender told me that company didn’t have their license to distribute.

“Recreation means government oversight and a need for distribution paperwork which nobody has,” Danny Mendoza, told The Pioneer. “Most edible companies will fall under this umbrella and possibly concentrates will become unavailable.”

Prices on products that are available in dispensaries have gone up. Taxes in local dispensaries range anywhere from 19 to 34 percent now. Maybe it is a lack of effort, but calling around to find out what dispensary charges which amount is tedious. Additionally, driving to the dispensary, waiting in line, making my selection and then seeing how much their taxes are is a waste of my time and money.

It seems like the legalization gives everyone a pass to smoke weed whenever and wherever they choose. I walked out of the gym the other day and saw three men standing in a circle smoking a joint in the middle of the parking lot. A year ago they would’ve been hiding in their car. I was serving a table at work and they asked if they could spark up a joint inside the restaurant. A year ago, no one would have dared to ask.

Despite this, it is prohibited for anyone to smoke cannabis in public spaces. Division 10, Chapter 6, Section 11362.1 of California’s Health and Safety says that you can’t smoke within 1,000 feet of a school, daycare, youth center or anywhere children are present unless it’s a private residence. You also can’t smoke anywhere that you cannot smoke tobacco. So even though California has given us the okay to smoke our cannabis, we can’t do it anywhere we want.

Legalization has come with benefits, mainly money for California. The state’s cannabis is estimated to bring in $1 billion in tax revenue annually, according to the Legislative Analyst Office.

Proposition 64 allocates tax money into four categories. Tax money will go towards grants for services in communities that are most affected by past drug policies. Money will also go towards evaluating the effects of the proposition and studying the medical effects of cannabis. Another part of the tax money will go towards funding to develop ways to determine if someone is driving while impaired by marijuana.

Good or bad, the legalization of cannabis is here and with all new things, comes growing pains. I hope to see the long lines get shorter and my favorite products come back. In the meantime, it’s important to stay educated on the legal do’s and don’ts of cannabis.