Marijuana is now legal in California but plenty of buts remain …

Tokers, rejoice. Marijuana became legal in California as 2018 dawned, thanks to the initiative passed by voters last November. Medical marijuana has been legal for years and now recreational marijuana is too for those over 21, although it remains illegal in the eyes of the feds. It also faces a growing heap of state and local government regulations.

That’s the problem with being legal, of course. You’re suddenly subject to all the rules, regulations and taxes that apply to legally recognized businesses and activities. Many growers and dealers are already yearning for the good old days when the whole thing was illegal but everyone for the most part looked the other way.

“It’s like any other heavily regulated industry. Look at the pharmaceutical industry or the liquor industry. They’re heavily, heavily regulated industries, and the cannabis industry is no different,” said Cara Martinson, federal affairs manager for the California State Association of Counties, in a Washington Post report. “It’s a cultural shift, and that’s what makes it interesting.”

Bring money

Here are some things to keep in mind before you set off to do some marijuana shopping. First and foremost, be prepared to pay cash. Since the weed is still illegal at the federal level, banks and credit card issuers won’t handle transactions for marijuana. Otherwise, if you have the cash, you can buy up to one ounce of cannabis a day, more if you have a note from your doctor.

While most modern-day head shops will be selling a variety of blends and products containing cannabis, you can’t sample the stuff in the store. Smoking marijuana remains illegal in most public places. You can, however, legally drive home with your purchase, as long as it’s in a sealed container.

Chances are, few purchasers will be toking up for the first time. But if you are a first-timer, keep in mind that it takes half an hour or more for the effects of marijuana to be felt. So, go easy at first. You don’t want to wind up like Maureen Dowd. The New York Times columnist freaked out after nibbling a bit too much pot-infused caramel candy in a Denver hotel room a few years ago, an incident famously recounted in a June 2014 column, “Don’t harsh our mellow, dude.”

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