L.A. officials will license, at most, 390 pot shops, 336 growers and 520 marijuana manufacturers.
L.A. officials will license, at most, 390 pot shops, 336 growers and 520 marijuana manufacturers.

Wondering About Legalized Marijuana? We Have Answers

How much pot can you have?

You can possess 28.5 grams of pot and 8 grams of concentrated marijuana. Additionally, you may grow up to six plants in your home, as long they are locked up and not in public view.

Where can you smoke?

You can only smoke in a private home or a business licensed for on-site smoking. You are not allowed to smoke while driving a vehicle, in public or anywhere smoking tobacco is banned.

What can Angelenos expect once pot is legalized on Jan. 1?

In the short term, Los Angeles will not have any legal recreational marijuana stores. Industry experts don’t expect the first recreational dispensaries to open their doors until March or April 2018. Further, it will be four months to a year until these marijuana products are tested, as the state’s “track and trace” system isn’t up and running yet.

In the long term, L.A. officials will license, at most, 390 pot shops, 336 growers and 520 marijuana manufacturers. Additionally, to prevent pot businesses from concentrating, the city will allow only 520 microbusinesses — places that grow, manufacture, distribute and sell pot products (or any combination of these services). Microbusinesses that grow or sell pot will be double-counted and contribute to the cap on pot shops and pot growers.

However, these numbers may be optimistic. Pot shops can operate only in specific, pre-approved commercial and industrial areas. They cannot be within 700 feet of certain places, such as schools, parks and libraries, or other marijuana retailers. This means that some communities may run out of space for marijuana establishments before they reach the official cap.

How will legalization affect the price of pot?

Short answer: It’s too soon to tell. Richard Cowan, the former national director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, says California is entering a “transitory situation,” with myriad economic factors. Retail prices may rise over the next couple of years as the immature legal market struggles to supply consumers. But prices should drop as more dispensaries get licensed and enter the market.

Long answer: There are reasons to think that prices will rise and reasons to think that prices will fall. Pot prices plummeted after legalization in Washington. According to research from Steven Davenport of the Pardee Rand Graduate School in Santa Monica, the price per retail gram was $7.38 in September – a 67 percent decrease in just three years.

On the other hand, California will be taxing marijuana at an effective rate of up to 45 percent, the second highest tax regime in the nation. These costs likely will be passed on to the consumer. Further, according to Cowan, out-of-state tourism may help prop up prices.

Marijuana legalization on a California scale is unprecedented. Legal pot businesses will still have to compete with a well-established, large black market, and tax rates aren’t immutable. It’s also difficult to predict what consumers will gravitate to after prohibition ends. Cowan pointed out that after alcohol was banned, Americans shifted away from beer toward liquor. Will dabs and cannabis concentrates dominate the market?

What will happen to the black market?

The black market isn’t going anywhere, even if it may ebb and flow. The Golden State produces 13.5 million pounds of marijuana, according to the California Department of Finance. Compare this with annual demand, which is in the neighborhood of 3 million pounds. This disparity implies that most of the black market is geared toward export. And so long as other states prohibit legal marijuana, there will be a demand that the Golden State’s black market is happy to supply.


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