Here's how California's recreational weed will work
California voted last year to go recreational on January 1, 2018, and The Cannabist has put together a solid writeup of exactly how the transition from medicinal marijuana to recreational will work. Unfortunately, it won't be as easy as flipping a switch and just inviting everyone into the dispensaries that are already across the state. There are a lot of rules that have been put into place already, and despite the year-plus heads up that it was happening, many local towns and cities haven't had a chance to put whatever rules in place they need to get things rolling. Plus, some towns (like Kern County near Bakersfield) haven't shown an interest in allowing marijuana at all anyway.
In towns like San Diego and Los Angeles, there are rules in place, and there likely will be a few licenses granted right away on January 1st. Palm Springs is going a step further, and even allowing some cannabis lounges, places where people can smoke outside of their homes. So the good news is that if you're in a big city, you may be able to get started recreationally right away. If not, you may have to drive for a while.
And of course this is all still pretty up in the air. While it's a fair bet that marijuana will stay legal in CA, of course, there are big questions around just how high the taxes for weed are, and how that will affect the black market. And even though medicinal marijuana has been legal in California for a few years now, some dispensaries are still operating illegally (and some have seen action from local or federal law enforcement as a result). Come January 1st, there will likely be some legal sales, but it may be a while before California's recreational businesses become stable, legal, and reliable.