Weed is nothing new in California as the state was the first to legalize weed for medical use more than 20 years ago. As well, California is the leading exporter of pot in the US, but most of the drug goes through the black market. With that said, someone won’t be wrong to say recreational marijuana California legalization is an idea whose time has come.
As much as the state passed Proposition 64 through the ballot 14 months ago, recreational use of pot remained illegal until Jan. 1. Now that we are past that date, Californians over 21 years of age can be gifted pot or pot seeds, buy and possess up to one ounce, and grow a maximum of six plants at home.
By now eight US states have legalized medical pot – California, Nevada, Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, Massachusetts, Washington, and Maine. Some are in the process of legalizing, while others are yet to think about it. However, some counties and cities within these states have banned use of the substance within their areas of jurisdiction.
The Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation’s spokesman last year said that the state was preparing to have weed laws in place come January 1. The laws include tracing and tracking of pot and pot seeds. The bureau also said the state was not yet ready to license businesses, so all rules and regulations until Jan. 1 were being handled by counties and cities.
Considering that California is the largest producer of weed in the US and around 70 percent of the produce is sold through the black market, the rules won’t come into place that easily. No matter the amount of effort authorities put, without the goodwill of businesses and citizens, it won’t be easy to streamline the weed industry.
While recreational weed went legal at state level of Monday, some counties and cities are yet to issue their licenses as they have yet to finalize the process. According to the new laws, businesses must obtain local licenses before they can obtain state licenses.
Over the last 14 months when Californians voted in favor of legalization of pot. The state has been drawing up regulations and taxes to govern the weed industry.
While these laws are meant to kill the black market for weed, some analysts have claimed they may end up encouraging more growers, retailers, marijuana dispensaries, and consumers to turn to the black market. Only a few shops have so far opened for business. For example, when taxation goes into full force, recreational weed will face up to 70 percent taxation, and sellers will transfer the burden to customers.
The State’s largest cities San Francisco and Los Angeles have yet to license any weed businesses despite having huge weed markets.
AFP news agency reported that Troy Dayton told them there is high likelihood the first two years will be a mess.
Dayton is CEO of ArcView, which studies the global weed market. The company predicted a very unstable cannabis market over the first two years.
California has the potential to gain a lot from legalization of pot, but patience is needed as weed laws kick in for they may initially impact the market negatively before it can pick up.
As much as pot for medical use prohibited people from buying and possessing pot without a doctor’s recommendation, it led to a surge in the range of available weed products. Recreational pot will result in invention of hundreds of products. For instance, even before it could go fully legal, in December one Company had already invented alcohol-free weed-infused wine.
ArcView projects the California annual black market for weed is currently worth around $5.1billion and with legalization could shoot to $5.8billion by 2021.
Reports show the state is planning to collect approximately $1billion yearly in local and state taxes from the recreational pot market.
Meanwhile, nobody will be allowed to smoke pot in places where cigarette smoking is prohibited, while driving, and 300 meters (1000 feet) from a school. Driving while high on weed attracts DUI charges, while smoking pot in public brings with it $100 fine.
The federal government still considers weed and illegal product and classifies it alongside cocaine and heroin as a proscribed substance.
Khalil Moutawakkil, owner of KindPeoples, a Santa Cruz based pot grower and seller, people have every right to raise negative and positive criticism about the marijuana laws, but eventually, the rules will streamline to market for the good of all. Good thing is, laws can always be amended and this is exactly what will happen with marijuana laws.
The California Police Chiefs Association has always been against recreational pot legalization. It says this will be an extra burden to them as they are already struggling to end the black market. It is also concerned that more young people will start using weed as it has high appeal to them, only that they never had opportunity to use it.
As most businesses are not yet licensed to offer recreational weed, and the high taxes and fee will raise it cost by up to 70 percent, the black market is expected to thrive even more.