Norway decriminalizes, California issues first round of recreational licenses
Here's two more good pieces of news about legalization. First, the parliament of Norway has made plans to decriminalize marijuana in that country. Decriminalization isn't quite the same as legalization -- people who use the drug while it's decriminalized can still face consequences for doing so. But the consequences are usually centered on rehabilitation or assistance rather than actual punishment or jail. Portugal famously decriminalized drugs back in 2001 and has seen a lot of benefits from that decision, and Norway seems to be following in the same stead.
Legalization would still have further benefits (and could be taxed, providing some extra money in addition to the health and societal benefits), but we'll take what we can get for now. Only about 4% of adults currently use marijuana in Norway anyway, so prohibition isn't nearly as damaging there as it is in places like the US anyway.
And in other good news, California has started giving out the first round of licenses for recreational marijuana. As we've been saying here, weed is set to go recreational in CA on January 1st, and that action will make the state the largest legal market for marijuana in the world. Elegant Stoner is based in California, and according to dispensary owners and growers we've talked to, the changes are seen as beneficial but still pretty problematic. Dispensaries are limited to selling only a certain amount to customers, and the products sold must be pre-packaged, which raises product and labor costs for growers and dispensaries alike. Taxes are going to be high on recreational weed as well, which could enable a black market (and undo a lot of the fixes that recreational marijuana was supposed to provide).
Despite those concerns, however, California's excited to buy some pot legally, and nearly everyone is expecting there to be long lines and lots of sales in the first few months. In the future, there may be some kinks to work out, but bring it on, January 1st: California's growers and distributors are going to be ready for you.