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California pot shops get set for Jan 1

Live music. Free T-shirts. A "Fweedom" celebration with mystery prize boxes, and a shot at a behind-the-scenes tour.

California's legal pot market opens for business on January 1 2018. Marijuana legalisation arrives on January 1 in California with lots of hoopla, but only a handful of cities will initially have retail outlets ready to sell recreational pot. By Thursday afternoon, California had issued only 42 retail licenses. Another 150 applications were pending and regulators planned to work a second straight weekend to review them. Los Angeles and San Francisco were late to approve local regulations, meaning no recreational pot shops there will open their doors on Monday. The lucky few outlets with licenses - mainly in San Diego, the San Francisco Bay Area, Palm Springs area and Santa Cruz - think they have an edge being first out of the gate. But excitement about California joining the growing list of states and Washington DC, with legal recreational weed is tempered with the stresses of ensuring shelves are stocked in the face of uncertain demand. The state issued its first 20 retail licenses two weeks ago and an additional 22 trickled out since, some for already established medical marijuana businesses that have thrived in California for two decades and will continue. Alex Traverso, a spokesman for the California Bureau of Cannabis Control, said a dozen employees were vetting applications to "issue as many licenses as we can" in the coming days. The temporary permits represent just a sliver of the thousands of licenses expected to eventually be issued for retail recreational sales. Local permits are a prerequisite for the state licenses, and many cities - including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Long Beach - have yet to issue any local rules, putting huge swaths of the state on the sidelines for opening day. An outlet known as Caliva in San Jose is promoting the "Fweedom" celebration Monday with the prize boxes and exclusive tours of its growing areas, along with massages, acupuncture, waffle desserts and music with "mellow beats". A county supervisor will attend a 7am ribbon-cutting ceremony at KindPeoples in Santa Cruz. Its chief executive, Khalil Moutawakkil, said weed has long been "a huge part" of the culture of the oceanfront college town. Berkeley Patients Group, which opened as a medical marijuana dispensary in 1999 and has received a permit for recreational sales, expects lines around the block to mark opening day. The mayor of the city that includes the University of California, Berkeley campus is expected at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 6am. "You'll see the people who have been consumers for decades and they were for legalisation back in the '60s," said Sean Luse, chief operating officer. "But you're also going to see a more mainstream group of people who were waiting for the green light." Originally published here:

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