Is a Marijuana Gold Rush Imminent?

This November, California (along with Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts) joined four other states in legalizing recreational marijuana. The momentous decision was somewhat belated; California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996 even as culture writ large continued to view it as a controversial substance. Now that marijuana’s recreational use is legally protected, however, the movement is raising a number of questions about the future of the industry, which is especially murky under a federal government that still considers marijuana an illegal substance. In a piece for The Los Angeles Times, Robin Abcarian asks:

Will cannabis businesses ever be able to move away from the all-cash model forced upon them by banks unwilling to risk their charters to do business with purveyors of what the feds still classify as a controlled substance? (Hope so, said state Board of Equalization Chairwoman Fiona Ma, who urged them to pay their taxes even if they have to use buckets of cash to do so.)

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How will the regulations that were belatedly developed for the 20-year-old medical marijuana industry mesh with regulations for adult recreational marijuana, approved by California voters in November? (Not sure yet, said Lori Ajax, chief of the state’s new Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation, who will be untangling that knot.)

Abcarian goes on to explore how misleading the stereotype of “dreadlocks, tattoos, and flannel shirts” is– marijuana is a serious industry, and one with serious potential. To that end, Abcarian writes:

Had our lawmakers taken medical marijuana seriously when voters legalized it, [Democratic Assemblyman Jim Wood of Healdsburg] said, we probably would not be facing such confusion today.

But it took them nearly two decades to develop the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, a set of bills signed into law last year by Gov. Jerry Brown. They won’t have that luxury with recreational marijuana. The new law requires the state to begin issuing various licenses in January 2018.

“I got into this in January 2015, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t find out something I didn’t know before,” Wood told me. “You could dedicate your entire career to this issue and not get your arms around the entire thing.”

Read the rest of the article here.


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