Marijuana in Santa Ana?
Santa Ana is the first city in the OC to allow recreational marijuana businesses where any person over the age of 21 can buy legal weed without a prescription. It is also the only city.
If you haven’t been to a marijuana dispensary to buy marijuana, you might be in for a surprise. At 420 Central in Santa Ana, conveniently located at—you guessed it—420 Central in Santa Ana, the atmosphere is quiet with a laid-back cool. Mosaics of beloved Marvel characters and their creator Stan Lee line the walls. Displays of cannabis accouterment line the waiting area, which is in an open, high-ceilinged room with comfortable seating and lots of light. A busy receptionist answers calls ranging from store hours to recreational law particulars to strain options.
Behind her, a glass-wall separates you from the budtenders who work with individuals on their cannabis needs. It’s like an Apple Store for bud, complete with the geniuses for customer consult.
420 Central is just one of 17 state-licensed marijuana dispensaries in Santa Ana, the only licensed retail stores for marijuana in the OC. Moreover, per the Voice of OC, it was the ONLY place in Los Angeles and Orange County where you could buy legal recreational marijuana on the first day it became legal last January.
Before recreational weed was legal, 420 Central and its counterparts were only open to medical marijuana patients. However, as 2018 progresses, as many as ten more cannabis dispensaries will get retail licenses in the city.
For a full list with addresses of existing recreational marijuana dispensaries in Santa Ana, please click here.
Proposition 64 passed in November of 2016 (the same time a more contentious and impactful election took place). Prop 64 allows any adult over the age of 21 to buy up to one ounce of marijuana (28.5 grams, to be exact) for personal use, no prescription necessary. Prop 64 also allows adults to grow up to six marijuana plants at home. It took effect in January of this year.
But most people don’t grow their own weed. They want to buy it legally in a retail setting.
However, setting up a retail pot store is still illegal in most of the cities in Orange County and throughout other parts of California. Part of the Prop 64 legislation made it possible for cities or counties to outlaw marijuana dispensaries to set up within their borders. And of the 34 cities in Orange County, only Santa Ana said it was okay. The rest of the county is taking a “wait and see” attitude.
Prop 64 also made weed more expensive. In addition to legalizing recreational marijuana in the state of California, Prop 64 regulated the recreational pot business. Part of regulation was to establish a tax system for recreational pot, which early recreational weed customers learned are substantial. As of January 1, 2018, customers began paying a 15% excise tax on cannabis and cannabis products to the state. This 15% tax doesn’t include any local taxes.
In Santa Ana, there is a 6% voter-approved tax for medical marijuana. Per the OC Register, however, the city council added an 8% “operating agreement fee” for recreational stores. The new taxes took in almost $1 million in additional tax revenue in the first two months of the year.
To read more about the ins and outs of Proposition 64, please click here.
Figure 1 Smoking is still illegal in public pretty much everywhere in the OC
Does that mean you can smoke marijuana in public throughout Santa Ana, too, maybe even sample it at the store? Nope. None of the legislation allows for the public consumption of marijuana. You also can’t have it at school, daycare or a youth center (Basically, the idea here is to keep it away from kids). Moreover, you cannot drive if you have been smoking, nor can you smoke it outside a bar or a restaurant, and not even in a hotel room. That leaves smoking it at home or a licensed area for on-site consumption.
So far, the only place in southern California where you can smoke in public is in Palm Springs, not Santa Ana. The OC Register reports that Palm Springs issued the Coachella Valley Green Dragon a permit for on-site weed consumption. The neighbor, a spa owner, is concerned it will stink up his business, so he wants to move. It is unclear when the lounge might open. No lounges have permits in Santa Ana yet.
To read more about the issues surrounding the first permit, please click here.
Recreational weed is legal in Orange County. But if you want to buy it legally in a licensed recreational marijuana retail store, then you have to go to Santa Ana. In other words, if you want to buy legal weed in the OC, Santa Ana is the ONLY place to be.