COACHELLA VALLEY, Calif. - The new year is bringing a green opportunity for local cannabis dispensaries. Monday marked the first day adult recreational marijuana use is legal in the state of California, only one of a few states that have done so.
"I'm going to get some edibles...I'm not going to take them home," Jim Hickmon said. He's is one of several customers at Desert Organic Solutions in Palm Springs who bought legal cannabis for recreational use. It's all thanks to voters approving Proposition 64 in November of 2016.
"First thing this morning...try my first legal weed," he said. "We don't have legal weed in North Carolina." North Carolina has decriminalized but not legalized any use of cannabis currently. It only allows a very specific use of CBD or cannabidiol hemp oil for certain epilepsy cases.
Hickmon visits the Coachella Valley a few times a year, and saw an opportunity to cope with joint pains and arthritis, without needing a prescription for medicine or cannabis.
"This is really the only thing I'm able to find other than prescription medications that will help it," he said.
For Lloyd Fremed- he's was one of the first adult use customers at Palm Springs Safe Access. He visited from Connecticut which only allows medical use, and simply wanted to enjoy the effects of cannabis without any worry.
"It's like people drinking," he said. "It's the same kind of thing...where it's social. It's elevates your mood."
Gary Cherlin, CEO of Desert Organic Solutions, opened his dispensary at 6 a.m. in anticipation of adult-use customers. Cherlin says there has been a steady stream of customers, some of whom he expects will be from out of state.
"We get people traveling on the 10 freeway from Arizona...back and forth all the time," he said. "We had some people actually that came in."
Hickmon believes other parts of the country will follow suit when it comes to legalizing cannabis use.
"Even on the East Coast, we're seeing the laws beginning to change," he said. "Washington D.C. has decriminalized marijuana. I wouldn't be surprised to see Pennsylvania or South Carolina perhaps coming along soon."
The California Highway Patrol is reminding people that transporting any marijuana between state lines still remains illegal, even if both states have legalized all use. Any use is still banned at national parks, which is under federal jurisdiction.