The state of California will legalize recreational marijuana on January 1st, but that date isn't necessarily set in stone for many residents. Many local governments will continue to ban recreational cannabis until they pass their own set of regulations for the industry. For many months, experts worried that both Los Angeles and San Francisco would not be ready to legalize marijuana on January 1st, but that may no longer be an issue.
The Los Angeles City Council is set to vote today on a series of regulations that will govern the marijuana industry starting in just a few weeks. The rules will mostly keep dispensaries out of residential neighborhoods and away from schools, libraries and parks. Assuming these rules pass, it will probably not give many marijuana businesses enough time to get the appropriate licenses ready to launch on January 1st. But at least the issue will not be looming into the new year with no end in sight.
Likewise, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced his intent to sign a series of regulations governing the marijuana industry in his city. The situation in San Francisco was even more difficult than in Los Angeles because the Bay Area's Chinese-American community strongly opposed recreational marijuana and often packed public hearings on the issue to voice their concerns. The San Francisco regulations will not go into effect until 30 days after Lee signs them into law, meaning they won't be legal until January 6th at the earliest. So San Francisco will definitely not be ready for recreational marijuana on January 1st, but resident shouldn't have to wait too long.
It's highly important that local governments pass regulations, because California law states that marijuana businesses need to obtain local licenses before they can ask permission to operate from the state government. So even though cannabis will be legal January 1st, it might as well be illegal still if you live in a city that hasn't passed any new rules.
But now that California's two largest cities are onboard, it looks like things will finally begin rolling.