“I love Los Angeles. I love Hollywood. They’re beautiful. Everybody’s plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic” – Andy Warhol
Next up in our cannabis culture articles, we’re heading over to the land of opportunity: America. More specifically, we’re off to the home of the rich and famous: the city of Los Angeles. The USA has varying views on cannabis, mainly due to the fact that each of its 50 states has their own laws on cannabis legalization. This means that whilst one state might accept cannabis both recreationally and medically, another may not. Today we’re going to be diving into the cannabis laws and pot culture within the state of California, and more specifically, the city of LA; figuring out what cannabis really means there. Remember, cannabis culture isn’t just about laws or the government, it’s about the people. Culture is made by people. So, without more delay, let’s stroll past the Hollywood sign and into the land of LA.
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Los Angeles, or also referred to as LA if you’re especially cool, is a city in the US state of California. LA has a population of 3.8 million people and is the second biggest city in America. Often when people arrive there, they forget that, and end up having to get an Uber everywhere. LA is only beaten in size by New York. The city is known worldwide for its celebrities, film and music industry, incredible beaches and, of course, Hollywood. LA is seen probably more on TV than in real life, which makes it quite a surreal place when actually visited. Nonetheless, LA is also home to real people with real lives. In regards to politics, LA is a Democratic safe seat, and has voted in the Democratic Party every year since 1988. The governor of Los Angeles is the Democratic Party member John Bel Edwards. This highlights to liberal attitude of California as a state, which we’ll delve more into later. So is LA a nice place to live? Well, the truth is that LA is like marmite: some people love it, and some people can’t stand it. But let’s take a look at some of its major highlights.
Marilyn Monroe, one of the greatest singers, performers and actors of the 1950s, said this about Hollywood: “Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.”
Hollywood is a neighbourhood in LA, which is the home of everything related to the entertainment industry: the Oscars awards, Paramount Pictures, star-studded walk of fame and the TCL Chinese Theatre.
Hollywood became a centre of the film industry in the early 1900s because film-makers were free from suing threats there. In addition, it had warm weather and stretching landscapes that are perfect for film locations. Now, Hollywood is still the home of film, and home to some of the most famous celebrities alive.
LA isn’t just famous for its acting industry, it also is the dream location for all aspiring music artists and is home to some incredible music labels. Not only are there some incredible music companies in LA – such as Live Music, Universal and Sony – but it was also a place where the 90s rap genre really flourished. Artists like Dr Dre, Easy E, Snoop Dogg and all of NWA all came to LA to record and play some of their best music. LA is still very much a hub of entertainment opportunity.
Los Angeles may have an incredible entertainment industry, but it also has some geographic wonders too. In fact, LA has some of the best beaches in America. Santa Monica, Malibu, Huntington and Redondo are just some of the incredible sun-kissed beaches that LA has to offer. If you get bored of the stressful hustling and bustling of Hollywood, the beautiful beaches will soon calm you down.
Is Cannabis Legal in Los Angeles?
Short answer: yes. Long answer: whilst some laws are universal in America, most differ from state to state; and there are 50 of them, so that’s a lot of potentially varied laws.
“There are actually two different sets of laws; federal laws and state laws. … Constitutional law permits each state to create and enforce additional laws for their state. Each state is considered sovereign and has the power to create laws as needed. Each state is considered unique with its own characteristics.”
In America, their cannabis policy revolves around the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, which states that the use and possession of cannabis is illegal under any circumstance. However, this is not the case in some states. One of these cannabis-accepting states being: California. The act splits all drugs into five ‘schedules’.
The 5 Schedules
- This includes: cannabis, LSD, heroin and ecstacy.
- This is the most serious schedule, as the law-maker believes these are the most addictive and most likely to be abused.
- These include: cocaine and mephedrone.
- These include: ketamine and anabolic steroids.
- These include: xanax and valium.
- These include: lomotil and motofen.
However, despite cannabis being part of the Schedule I group, it’s still legal recreationally in 18 states, and medically in 37. How can this be? This is because these specific states have passed cannabis reform bills that have bypassed federal law. California is one of those states. In California, cannabis has been legal medically since 1996, and recreationally since 2021.
The Specific Cannabis Laws in LA
Since June 2021, recreational cannabis is legal in California. Since then, the law states that:
“You must be 21 or older to have, purchase or use recreational cannabis. This includes smoking, vaping and eating cannabis-infused products. You may possess 28.5 grams of cannabis plant material (about an ounce) and 8 grams of concentrated cannabis. It is illegal to give or sell retail cannabis to minors.”
As you can see, California is rivaling Amsterdam with its cannabis laws. It seems like yet another weed-topia. However, as we’ve mentioned countless times, cannabis culture isn’t about the laws, it’s about the people. So what do the people of LA think of cannabis, and what are their lives like with all cannabis now becoming legalized.
The City’s General Attitude To Cannabis
The state of California has a population of 40 million people and it was recorded that California produced 13.5 million pounds of cannabis. That’s almost half a gram for each individual living there. This just goes to show how much cannabis is being produced and enjoyed in California and, more specifically, Los Angeles. The city champions its laid back attitude and cool aesthetic, which is only improved by legal cannabis. Like Amsterdam, LA is another perfect model for any city that one day wishes to also legalize recreational cannabis. But let’s take a look at how cannabis affects day to day life.
Cannabis dispensaries, like coffeeshops in Amsterdam, are places where Americans can purchase recreational cannabis. There are now over 1000 cannabis dispensaries and definitely more on the way. This has created many jobs in Los Angeles. In fact, the cannabis industry in Los Angeles has made $3.1 billion in sales since 2019. This makes LA the highest cannabis-selling state in America. This also highlights how lucrative the cannabis dispensary industry is in America, and how much the American people utilise it.
As you’ve realised, the beach lifestyle in Los Angeles is part of the culture and the way of life. The relaxation, the water, perhaps even the surfing; it’s all part of a meditative lifestyle. As you can imagine, beach culture also goes hand-in-hand with cannabis culture. Los Angeles is full of weed-enthusiasts who chill out at the beach, converse, listen to music and promote a relaxed way of living. It’s good to know that whilst there’s the hectic entertainment industry, with its money and fame, there’s also a parallel universe of hippies enjoying cannabis with the sound of the ocean. From one extreme to the next – that’s Los Angeles for you.
Just like Amsterdam, cannabis tourism is rife in Los Angeles. That’s not just Americans escaping their state where cannabis is illegal, but also people from across the water. There are tours, cannabis crawls, multiple strains of cannabis; the place is built for weed tourism. This brings with it a traveller culture, and more diversity. Lots of people, from many walks of life, all with the same love for the marijuana plant.
There you have it, cannabis culture in Los Angeles. Places like LA are seriously testing the waters for the future of cannabis-accepting cities, and the world will thank them in time to come. Like Amsterdam did before in, LA is leading the charge and may one day be part of a United States of America where all states have fully legalised cannabis. But in the meantime, whilst we wait, why not go check out the cannabis culture in Los Angeles for yourself?
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Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advice, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.