How California’s legal cannabis dream became a public health nightmare: It’s a class B drug in the UK – but in the US state it has led to spiralling addiction, psychotic illnesses and hospitals facing a deluge of poisonings and drug-drive accidents  

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A row of luxury ‘healing’ creams is guarded by a locked glass cabinet, gilded in gold trim. The packaging is stylishly minimal – clean and white with small black typeface – and beside the tubs sit decorative, artificial fruit and images of sprawling fields, with a small flyer to remind customers of the high-quality, organic nature of the products. I spot one pot – a snip at $43, or roughly £35 – that is specifically designed for ‘replenishing and rejuvenating’ tissues in the, er, vagina. Alongside me, expensively dressed customers peruse the goods, clutching colourful iced smoothies and juices.

I’m in upmarket Beverly Hills in Los Angeles, California, in one of the area’s many so-called ‘wellness’ shops, just a stone’s throw from designer boutiques such as Gucci and Saint Laurent. It’s a far cry from Holland & Barrett, not least because all the products here at the Serra boutique contain high-grade, genetically engineered cannabis. There are balms and lotions, things to eat and, of course, to smoke. One display cabinet showcases dozens of dried cannabis flowers, each bud sitting in its own pretty porcelain dish, labelled according to its supposed benefit: happiness, creativity, relaxation.

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