The state already has a booming marijuana industry, on 1 January, it California became the sixth US state to make marijuana legally available for recreational use

On 1 January, California became the sixth US state to make marijuana legally available for recreational use. Because the state is the nation’s most populous, the move could hasten cannabis’s legalisation across the US.

California banned cannabis in 1913, but penalties for using the drug have eased since the 1970s. In 1996, it was the first state to legalise marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Since 2016, it has been legal to grow, possess and use small amounts of the drug. The state already has a booming marijuana industry, producing as much as seven times more cannabis than is consumed there. Much of this is sold illegally in other states.

According to Alex Traverso of California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control, around 100 dispensaries in the state were licensed to sell cannabis for recreational use on Monday. The bureau had worked over the holiday period to try to process 1,400 licence applications for marijuana-related firms.

Recreational marijuana has already been legalised in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Nevada and Washington. Legal sales of the drug are expected to begin in Massachusetts later this year.

“A third of the US now has legal access to marijuana for non-medical use,” says Steve Rolles of the UK drug regulation think tank Transform. “California may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, forcing the government to review federal legislation which currently rules the drug to be illegal.”

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