A collection of vintage photographs, by Joanna Kosinka via Unsplash

Where We Are Today

High There

By High There

December 5, 2018

December 5th, is known in United States history as Repeal Day, or the day that Prohibition ended. As cannabis gets legalized in more states and becomes more widely socially acceptable, we remember the period in history not that long ago (nearing on a century) when even alcohol was banned across the nation. We can take this day to remember what the generations before us went through, the changes that have happened, and the progress we continue to make for ending prohibition of cannabis across the country.

It wasn’t long ago that Los Angeles, and the entire state of California, didn’t have access to recreational use. In fact, we’ve seen a speedy blur of a timeline for cannabis legalization in the Los Angeles area from the mid 2000’s to present day. In honor of Repeal Day, we will cover where we are today in the cannabis industry for the Los Angeles area.

The Early Days of Cannabis Legal Reform

While we didn’t see real legal reform until much more recently, the very first ballot initiative to attempt to legalize cannabis was as far back as 1972. It was called Proposition 19, and though it was unsuccessful, California was still the first state to legalize medical cannabis decades later. July of 1975 is when small amounts of cannabis were decriminalized, labeling it a civil offense instead of a criminal offense. While this merely lessoned the punishment, people had to undergo for victimless crimes, this was still a huge step in the right direction.

California Takes the Lead

Medical cannabis was legalized with the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, or Proposition 215, which was the first act of many that spiraled legalization in almost 30 states in the past two decades. California helps continue to steer the path for legalization across the whole country.

With Proposition 215, obtaining a recommendation from a doctor would enable you to legally be allowed to possess no specified limits of cannabis as long as it could be proven that it was for your own personal use as a patient.

In 2000, Proposition 36 got approved into legalization by voters, lessening punishments for drug-related crimes and requiring that instead of possible incarceration and facing trial, first and second offense drug violators were then sent to drug treatment programs.

Making it Less and Less Criminal

A decade passed, and then in September of 2010, CA State Senate Bill 1449 was signed into law by governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. This bill further lessened the charge for possession under an ounce of cannabis, changing it from a misdemeanor to a mere infraction, which is essentially the equivalent of a traffic violation. You get a fine, no criminal record, and no mandatory court appearance. While this was signed into law, it didn’t become effective until January of 2011.

Senate Bill 420

In between the act proposition in 2000 and the bill in 2011, Senate Bill 420 came into legislative jurisdiction in 2003. This bill established an ID card for patients consuming medical cannabis. While some counties did not agree with this law change, the quantity of cannabis a person was limited to was set, and it was legalized across the state in that fashion.

Electricity Growth

Since cannabis first became legal as a medicinal source, there have obviously been resourced used involved in the cultivation of it. It’s now estimated, for example, that 3% of all of California’s electricity – all the power in their state – is used for the growth and cultivation of cannabis. This is because each major grower in California requires 5,000 kWh per day, on average. The large amount of light required to grow cannabis is supplied by lamps instead of sunlight most of the time, but wind turbine energy is making moves to recoup some of the energy being used.

Path to Recreational Legalization

While recreational cannabis usage was legalized in November of 2016, California faced a lot of conflict with federal law the years prior. Pushback didn’t end when cannabis was legalized for medicinal used. On the contrary, conflict for the matter arose because on the federal level, cannabis was still considered a Schedule I prohibited drug. Threats to landlords renting out to medical cannabis providers in 2007, coordinated and extensive DEA crackdowns on cannabis dispensaries across the state in 2011, and countless struggles in between has paved the way to a brighter present.

Proposition 64 allowed for recreational usage of cannabis across California. After legalization, adults 21 years or older could smoke or ingest cannabis, possess, obtain, or manufacture cannabis and cannabis paraphernalia, and grow no more than six live plants yourself. There are regulations and rules to follow to stay in compliance, but cannabis is legalized in California.

Changes in Los Angeles

Since cannabis has become legalized across the state, some changes have been made to certain structures. For example, there’s now a dedicated Cannabis Unit in the Los Angeles Fire Department. They’re located in the commercial and industrial industry section of the Fire Prevention and Public Safety Bureau. They help to provide Fire Code ordinance enforcement in coordination with the Department of Cannabis Regulation.

Likewise, those who want to conduct laboratory testing, processing, cultivation, or retail sales of cannabis in the state have to work with the Cannabis Unit to keep everything above par. There may be inspections or additional approvals required, so it’s always better safe than sorry.

The first cannabis business license for the Los Angeles Country was awarded to Yvonne DeLaRosa Green in 2018. With a dispensary located in Malibu called the 99 High Tide Collective, Green was able to get the business license because of a small footnote of when Malibu became a city. This allowed Green to have the Los Angeles County create their very first business license for cannabis.

Once California’s adult-use market for cannabis becomes regulated and gets up and running, Los Angeles is expected to be one of the peak capitals of cannabis across the country, and the main cannabis capital for the state. It’s amazing to see what California’s done so far to pave the path of cannabis legalization, and there’s so much more for the entire country still to come.

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