Buyers, Dispensaries Celebrate First Day of Legal Weed in California

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The legal sale of recreational marijuana began in California today with fanfare, celebratory 'blunts' and some anxiety.

Companies began selling pot in a relatively small number of businesses Monday, with more expected to join in the coming days and weeks, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The state has issued dozens of permits for retailers to begin recreational sales this week, expanding a market that is expected to grow to $7 billion annually by 2020.

Several of those retailers are in West Hollywood, but they won't open until Tuesday at the city's request. That makes Santa Ana's licensed stores the closest option for Angelenos who want to buy recreational marijuana on New Year's Day. Buyers could also drive to San Diego or the Palm Springs area to purchase pot, the Times reported.

To sell cannabis commercially in January ``for recreational or medical use'' marijuana businesses must have local approval and a state license. Existing medical marijuana dispensaries have been given first priority for recreational sales.

The city of Los Angeles has yet to start issuing local licenses to pot shops, which stirred unease among some existing medical marijuana dispensaries that have been following city rules.

Hundreds of customers, everyone from older people in leisure suits to a young man in pajamas got in line, waited upwards of an hour in Santa Ana to buy such things as pre-rolled joints to topical creams and foods infused with marijuana.

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