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The mainstreaming of marijuana is about to get huge boost.

Recreational marijuana sales will launch in three states
next year, including the biggest one of all: California.

It’s already for sale in five states, but the addition of a
legal retail marijuana market in California,
with its massive economy and population, will dramatically change the

California is
aiming to open retail marijuana stores by January 1, Massachusetts
and Maine plan to open stores
next summer.

“We obviously still have a lot to do, but yes, we’re
going to be ready to go on January 1,” said Alex Traverso, spokesman for
the Bureau of Cannabis Control in California.
“We will be issuing new regulations in November, so we’re hard at work on
those at the present time.”

Among the checklist of expected regulations is new oversight
on water usage — like drip irrigation and reusing waste water — that could
prove expensive for marijuana businesses. Other rules will require licensing
and background checks for distributors and safety and education training for

Dispensaries like Green Alternative, which has 10,000
patients in San Diego, are getting
ready to add non-medical customers to their clientele.

“We are in the process of stockpiling cannabis in order
to fulfill the market needs,” said Zach Lazarus, COO
of the Green Alternative. “We believe there will be a huge rush. We go
through two to four pounds [per day] on average, and we anticipate going
through three to four times as much when we open the doors for

This requires not only stockpiling pot, but negotiating hurdles
on the state and local level, for licensing, zoning, taxation and other issues.

Erik Altieri, executive director of the pro-legalization
group NORML, said it might take longer than January “to set up the
regulation process and to work out how the new recreational market will exist
alongside its already quite large medical market.”

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The Bureau of Cannabis Control in California
put its proposed regulations up for public review and began holding community
workshop meetings in Long Beach, Fresno
and Sacramento in September.

will implement retail marijuana sales on July 1, once state officials finalize
whether certain localities will be able to maintain a marijuana ban in their
respective towns, said Altieri.

“We are committed to make that deadline,” said
Steven Hoffman, chairman of the Cannabis Control Commission in Boston,
which held its first meeting on September 12 on developing and implementing

Maine would
have the smallest market, and it’s unclear when they’ll get it off the ground.
Dan Tartakoff, clerk for the Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee of
state lawmakers, said draft regulations were released in September proposing a
20% tax rate.