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Tips for buying marijuana in California: Bring cash, be careful, be patient, do your homework

Recreational marijuana becomes legal in California on Jan. 1. The first round of state licenses for marijuana businesses kick into effect in January. Here's a guide to everything you need to know.

Recreational marijuana is scheduled to go on sale at licensed stores in California on January 1st, or shortly thereafter, depending on the location.

Here’s what you need to know about buying and using so-called “adult use” cannabis.

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Q: How much marijuana can I purchase?

A: You can buy 1 ounce of adult use cannabis per day. If you’re a medical patient and have proper authorization from a doctor, you can buy up to 8 ounces per day.

Q: There are a lot of strains of marijuana. Will I be able to sample them at the marijuana stores?

A: You cannot smoke on the premises or in most public places, especially those located near schools and day care centers.

Q: Can I have a delivery service bring recreational marijuana to my home?

A: Some stores say they plan to deliver recreational marijuana. But they’re still reviewing the rules.

Q: Is it legal to transport recreational marijuana in my vehicle?

A: Yes — provided that the container it comes in remains sealed. You should keep the cannabis in your trunk while it is being transported. And remember that you cannot transport cannabis across state lines, even to places like Nevada, where recreational marijuana is legal. It’s also illegal to transport marijuana into Mexico and Canada.

Q: Can I buy marijuana with a credit card?

A: No. The sale of cannabis is against federal law. That means that banks generally won’t do business with marijuana companies. So the stores are forced to operate as a largely cash-only business. Typically, you’ll find a cash machine at the store, so that shouldn’t be an issue.

Q: Do the stores sell anything other than buds of marijuana?

A: Yes. Marijuana has been made part of everything from topical creams and tinctures to liquids and concentrates. You can also buy edible marijuana. Cannabis has been infused in candy, popcorn, ice cream, cookies, sushi, drinks — virtually anything you can think of.

You should be careful with edibles. Some people get high when there’s only a tiny amount of marijuana in food. Other people don’t get stoned unless there’s a significantly larger concentration.

And you should know that the effect of the marijuana doesn’t kick in until 30, 60, even 90 minutes after it is consumed. So go slowly. Give the marijuana time to take effect.

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We also suggest that you don’t leave edibles lying around your home. Much of it comes in packaging that looks like any non-marijuana product. It would be easy for a person to make a mistake.

Q: This sounds kind of overwhelming. Where do I turn if I have a question?

A: Usually, the stores use “budtenders” to sell marijuana. These are people who are supposed to have an advanced understanding of cannabis. Many do. Some don’t. It can be hard to tell; budtenders aren’t required to go through a certification process. You may want to talk to more than one budtender.

If you feel that you don’t understand what you’re buying, don’t buy it.

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