<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Bay Area Local News - [Bay Area Feature] In the Weeds]]>Copyright 2018http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/localen-usWed, 17 Jan 2018 22:14:35 -0800Wed, 17 Jan 2018 22:14:35 -0800NBC Local Integrated Media<![CDATA[Top Stories]]>Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:05:25 -0800]]><![CDATA[Weed Rush]]>Thu, 14 Dec 2017 17:21:29 -0800]]><![CDATA[Featured Video: Drive-Thru Pot Dispensary]]>Thu, 14 Dec 2017 17:26:16 -0800]]><![CDATA[National Marijuana Stories]]>Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:06:02 -0800]]><![CDATA[]]>Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:06:12 -0800]]><![CDATA[Some Bay Area Pot Retailers Open Early New Year's Day]]>Sun, 31 Dec 2017 23:35:46 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/pot_openings_1231_1260438.JPG

Just over one dozen dispensaries across the Bay Area on Monday rang in the new year by opening early to finalize some of the first recreational marijuana sales following the passage of Proposition 64 in 2016.

Some dispensaries in Berkeley and Oakland opened as early as 6 a.m. after being licensed by California and their respective cities for recreational sales.

Chris Conrad and Mikki Norris, who have both spent the past 29 years fighting for marijuana legalization, were all smiles at 6 a.m. sharp as they made the first purchase at Berkeley Patients Group.

"It's so great to be here," Conrad said. "What a moment for California. One small joint for us, a giant leap for California."

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin was in attendance for the official ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Berkeley dispensary located at 2366 San Pablo Ave. Anthony Moraga was also up before the sun in Berkeley to celebrate the momentous occasion.

Anthony Moraga was also up before the sun in Berkeley to celebrate the momentous occasion.
"To me, it's just an exciting time in California's history," Moraga said. "We've been living in the shadows, in the black market and now we can be proud to be a part of a regular industry."

"To me, it's just an exciting time in California's history," Moraga said. "We've been living in the shadows, in the black market and now we can be proud to be a part of a regular industry."

Harborside's location at 1840 Embarcadero in Oakland also opened at 6 a.m., while its San Jose location at 1365 N. 10th St. will open at 9 a.m.

Another Oakland dispensary, Purple Heart Patient Center at 415 Fourth St., opened at 6 a.m. and said it was offering free tacos for early-rising customers.

While Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, San Jose, Sebastopol and Santa Cruz signed off on various dispensaries to begin recreational sales starting Monday, other cities including San Francisco did not approve legislation for it in time for the start of the new year.

For a dispensary to legally open up shop, it must receive approval from the city it calls home and also receive a retail license from the state.

"Part of the reason there's so few permits is just with the difficulty of staying within the regulations," Alfred Oleson from Berkeley Patients Group said. "They wanted to make sure the people who were getting into it would set a positive example and be a good example to follow going forward."

In San Francisco's case, legislation was not signed until early December following lengthy debates over regulatory issues for the dispensaries.

Ultimately, the board opted for a 600-foot buffer zone around city schools and did not institute bans or caps for the number of dispensaries in each supervisorial district.

The city's existing 45 medical marijuana dispensaries and delivery services will be able to begin recreational sales as early as Saturday.

In order to legally purchase recreational marijuana, buyers must be at least 21 years old. Law enforcement officials are also reminding folks that they cannot smoke weed in public and that driving high will result in driving under the influence punishments.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Double Celebration: New Year and Legalized Marijuana]]>Sun, 31 Dec 2017 20:50:04 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/nye_pot_1231_1260209.JPG

At midnight Monday, recreational marijuana becomes legal in California. But not everyone who uses marijuana is cheering it’s new legal status.

Magnolia Wellness Center, a dispensary in Oakland, held a New Year’s Eve party to celebrate 2018 and the pot milestone it brought with it.

While some say marijuana legalization will end the negative stigma around using pot, others say it could also price people out.

Aaron Schleifer of Castro Valley toasted to a new era in California with a tonic infused with cannabis. He has been smoking pot for the past 30 years, but he’s worried about pot’s new legal status.

"The number of regulations and taxes and controls are going to go up - a lot!" he said. "So it’s going to be a lot more expensive to buy. A lot more expensive for people to run a business."

Schleifer is not alone.

Magnolia's Katie Rabinowitz and others at Sunday's double celebration referred to the new marijuana law as the end of Prohibition.

"The end goal has always been ending prohibition. And it’s been a long road," she said.

It also marks the start to a complicated set of new rules and regulations. Rabinowitz said part of Sunday night's party was to help explain some of the changes coming. For example, there will be a 15 percent increase in the excise tax levied on all marijuana products sold. And the state has decreased the amount that is now considered a legal serving size. She argued that could hurt consumers. But she remains optimistic.

"We are celebrating new territory," Rabinowitz said. "This is something we in California have never done before."

Vendors at the party also see it as a positive step. Their issue is how the new laws can vary from city to city, which makes it hard to sell. Especially for mom-and-pop shops.

"It makes it so that only the big cats are getting first, with the most money, the most lawyers, the most everything, which hurts the small guys," said Tiffany Conroy of Emerald Alchemy.

Many vendors also fear the new legal economy could struggle if the black market continues to thrives in the face of regulations. And there could a backlash if people grow their own product at home to keep costs down.

Right now, there about 90 retailers with a license to begin selling recreational marijuana. But people in San Francisco won’t be allowed to buy until Thursday.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[With Legal Pot Coming, Officials Are Concerned About DUIs]]>Wed, 27 Dec 2017 00:04:37 -0800https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/pot_driving_ca_1226_1214044.JPG

The legalization of recreational marijuana in California, which takes effect Jan. 1, comes amidst growing concern for driver safety, heightened by the tragic loss of a California Highway Patrol officer at the hands of an impaired driver.

CHP spokesman Ernie Sanchez said he’s worried about an uptick in impaired driving after the death of Officer Andrew Camilleri on Christmas Eve. Camilleri was sitting inside his CHP vehicle on the shoulder of Interstate 880 in Hayward late Sunday night when a suspected drunk and drugged driver slammed into the back of the vehicle.

Indeed, the combination of cars and cannabis is giving some in the transportation industry chills.

Count Russ Rader of the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety among those concerned.

"A state with a lot of tourism, like Colorado, they have been promoting their state as a marijuana tourism site," said Rader, senior vice president of communications for IIHS, which conducted a study on insurance claims in states with recreational pot such as Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

According to the findings, while collisions rose a modest 3 percent for the group, Colorado witnessed a 14 percent spike since 2012.

"The main finding is that the numbers are all moving in the same direction, and it’s a worrisome direction," Rader said.

While an ocean of research on cannabis-related accidents shows mixed findings, a Denver Post investigation using federal data found the following: a 40 percent increase in Colorado drivers involved in fatal crashes since 2013; and a 145 percent leap in drivers found with marijuana in their system.

Legal experts say be careful not to draw conclusions.

"THC, which is the active ingredient in marijuana that produces the high that impairs the driving, can stay in your bloodstream for up to a month and can stay there on average for 2 to 3 weeks," said Hadar Aviram of UC Hastings law school.

One of the greatest obstacles facing law enforcement right now is finding out when a driver has consumed cannabis and at what level.

Connecting tragedy to marijuana use may ultimately require better technology.

One Oakland group, Hound Labs, says it has developed a breathalyzer-type device for THC. While promising, law enforcement has been restricted by the federal government in this area. It’s been very difficult for law enforcement groups to sponsor tests because marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>