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California rings in the new year with broad legalization of marijuana

Lars Hagberg/Getty Images

SACRAMENTO — Some Californians are raising blunts instead of glasses as they usher in the new year.

The arrival of the new year in California brings with it broad legalization of marijuana.

The law comes two decades after California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana.

So-called recreational pot is now legal for adults 21 and older. Individuals can grow up to six plants and possess as much as an ounce.

Finding a retail outlet to buy non-medical pot in California won’t be easy, at least initially. Only about 90 businesses received state licenses to open on New Year’s Day. They are concentrated in San Diego, Santa Cruz, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Palm Springs area.

Los Angeles and San Francisco are among the many cities where recreational pot won’t be available right away. Other places, including Fresno, Bakersfield and Kern County, outlawed recreational marijuana sales.

A law allowing the state’s first legal retail pot sales went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday.

Johnny Hernandez, a tattoo artist from Modesto, was celebrating New Year’s Eve by smoking “Happy New Year blunts” with his cousins.

Hernandez, who is a medical marijuana user, says legalizing recreational pot is “something we’ve all been waiting for.”

The 29-year-old says he also hoped that the legalization of recreational, adult-use marijuana will help alleviate a stigma some believe still surrounds marijuana use.