The Golden State goes green on rec pot


As of Jan. 1, California has legalized the recreational sale of marijuana. They are the second state this year to legalize.

The Observer Staff

**A previous headline for this story, both online and in print, identified California as the Sunshine State. It has since been changed.

California became the eighth state to legalize recreational marijuana as of Jan. 1. This is a milestone for advocates who have been fighting for recreational legislation, since California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), in 1996 California passed Proposition 215. This made California the first state in the union to allow for the use of medicinal marijuana. This was just the start of the laws and regulations that would be placed on the state.

Senate Bill 420 in 2003 created a way to monitor medicinal marijuana usage. In 2015, the state rebuilt its framework of the industry with the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) to clarify the laws for marijuana-based businesses.

Now, in 2018, California has made huge improvements within the industry, but this is only the beginning for them. There are sales licensing procedures not currently in place in most major cities, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, according to CNN. These are the two largest cities in the state, which might put marijuana-based businesses at a disadvantage. Once these licenses are approved, this could mean more exposure to those who potentially were skeptical to the use of it.

In 2012, Washington State and Colorado became the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Since then, Oregon, Nevada, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, and California have legalized recreational use and thirty states have legalized medicinal marijuana.

As the industry continues to expand, the one thing that simply cannot be ignored is that marijuana is still illegal under federal law. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has openly opposed the legalization of marijuana because it could create strain on federal resources.

Earlier this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a one page public memo which detailed plans to rescind Obama-era marijuana enforcement, effective immediately.

In past years, marijuana enforcement was taken up primarily by the states and the laws that they pass. But with the new Sessions memo, green states are unsure to what extent Federal authority plans to enforce these new restrictions.

“Previous nationwide guidance specific to marijuana enforcement is unnecessary and is rescinded, effective immediately,” the memo stated.

In the memo, Sessions also called for the removal of the Cole Memo, a piece of policy from the Obama-era that turns a blind-eye to state level marijuana laws.