Recreational marijuana was legalized in California on Jan. 1.
Laws are still being fleshed out and cities are deciding on what to do with recreational or medicinal marijuana.
Cities like Lodi don’t have medicinal or recreational dispensaries operating in the city limits.
Stockton only allows medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in the city.
Port City Alternative, located on 1550 W Fremont St. in downtown Stockton is one of those medical dispensaries.
“Technically, there’s kind of a combination of two things,” said David Mallick. “There’s medical cannabis, which has been around for years and has been even legal in certain markets like this one; where a city actually sets up, gives you a permit and you can sell to patients who come in that have a doctor’s recommendation.”
Once the patient’s recommendation is verified, they can purchase from the dispensary. However, patients still must bring a valid California ID each time to a dispensary before going inside and purchasing products.
As of Jan. 1 of this year, the state has set up a department that deals with medical and recreational cannabis.
“Right now, the city of Stockton is only allowing medical cannabis sales,” said Mallick. “And they’re thinking about the possibility of going into the recreational mar- ket, but they haven’t done that as of yet.”
Port City Alternative has a city-issued permit to work in Stockton, as well as a state issued permit from the state of California to be in the medical marijuana business.
Dispensaries operating without these permits are illegal. Many have been shut down in Stockton this past year.
The changes of legal recreational pot may not be so noticeable to the public as of yet, but dispensaries and patients are noticing gradual changes.
“There are some differences,” Mallick said. “Because the state has now become involved, there’s some differences in the way you can retail it. ere’s a whole seed to sale pro- gram that the state is involved in, and what they are requiring is child proof packaging in everything so it doesn’t get into the hands of kids.
So because they’re diligently watching that, everything is changing.”
Before the seed to sale program, patients would see a bin of marijuana on the bud counter and ask the bud tender to pull some out and scale it to see what they’re getting. Now everything is prepackaged.
“Since everything is prepackaged, it makes it great for inventory, but it doesn’t always make it great for patients who like that more hands on experience.”
Before the legalization of recreational pot, medicinal dispensaries had point systems where a patient
would receive one in store credit point for every $20 or so with their purchase.
If a patient were to continue shopping at said dispensary, the points will add up over time and the patient would eventually be able to make a purchase with those points. This is no longer the case.
“There’s always some questions to what is legal and what’s not legal,” Mallick said. “It’s not legal to give anything away. So as a result, little things that we’ve kind of held back on are things like the point system, free gifts to patients, brand new patients, that sort of thing.”
To avoid breaking the law, dispensaries like Port
City Alternative have refrained from engaging in such actions for the time being.
A more noticeable change in the medical marijuana business is the higher tax rate on cannabis products.
Some medicinal marijuana patients like Jay Guz- man are seeing the changes.
“There is a tax rate, but I’m not worried about it cause it does go toward the marijuana industry and it helps it grow. So I don’t see the tax as a negative thing, I see it as a positive thing,” he said.
Other patients like Alex Smith thinks the tax in- crease is a nuisance, but feels legal pot overall is a good thing.
“I don’t see anything wrong with it, you know,”
Smith said. “Any stoner, or any person that smokes weed, if you go to those people, they’re going to treat you just like family. at’s just the vibe that we give o .”
Legalized marijuana in California is still a new thing and its availability is low as of now, but things will gradually change in the coming years.
“If there’s a negative impact for existing patients, it’s that now they have to pay additional taxes to the state, and it makes the products that they have more expensive.” Mallick said. “So they have to account for that.
at’s the price of legalization, that’s what people voted in, that’s what they wanted, now they’ve got to deal with the state of California.”