Los Angeles Recreational Legalization Rolls Out Softly

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While international media outlets have touted today, New Years Day 2018, as the first day of recreational marijuana sales in California, the Golden State seems to be taking its sweet time, making the much-anticipated and historic recreational roll out a subdued, somewhat confusing affair.

After 2017, many Angelenos seem to be sitting home in their pajamas, watching bowl games and the only line-ups forming overnight were for seats to Pasadena’s annual Rose Parade. Pasadena, nearby Glendale, and Burbank, all located in Los Angeles County, are cities that have prohibited marijuana sales.


MedMen, California’s largest dispensary chain with Los Angeles locations in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Venice, and an Orange County location in Santa Ana, has welcomed recreational customers with their “It’s Legal” billboard campaign–but only their Santa Ana store was able to start recreational sales today. The West Hollywood location begins recreational sales tomorrow, January 2.

The Santa Ana location was “extremely busy,” according to staff that hurriedly answered the phone early on Monday afternoon. So busy, in fact, that an official spokesperson was not available for comment, with all managers on the sales floor. Manufacturer Hmbldt was schedule for in-store educational opportunity and promotional giveaway, from 2-6pm, and again at MedMen’s West Hollywood store on Jan 2.

The City of Santa Ana was a Southern California hotspot for recreational sales, according to media reports. 420 Central, another Santa Ana dispensary, opened at 7am for business, and had out-the-door lines still late into the afternoon. Principals at 420 Central told local news station NBCLA.com they had just received their adult sales license on Saturday. Nathan Vosburg, Mayor of Coalinga, attended the historic day at 420 Central, to show support for cannabis vendors from his area.

At MedMen’s West Hollywood location early on New Year’s Day, media crews were scheduled for back-to-back interviews with company Communications Director Daniel Yi. Located on Santa Monica Boulevard, the typically busy location was seeing an average amount of customer traffic, according to staff at the store, but they expect to see significant sales tomorrow.

West Hollywood, which is its own municipality located within in the city of Los Angeles, has so far licensed MedMen and Southern California’s oldest dispensary Alternative Herbal Health Services, for recreational sales starting Jan 2. Dispensaries located in other parts of Los Angeles will be delayed while they wait to obtain licenses from the city, with no word on how long that could take.

The relaxed response to the recreational launch may be largely due to a confusing hodgepodge of pre-existing regulations on California’s medical cannabis dispensaries, which vary between municipalities. Media reports also pointed to competition from non-compliant dispensaries throughout Los Angeles and Orange County that have yet to face enforcement, as the legal market is beginning to establish.