Will California Be Ready for Recreational Sales in January?
California is set to begin recreational marijuana sales on January 1, but that doesn’t mean they are fully prepared.
Los Angeles and San Francisco are two of the many cities struggling to work with the local rules for cannabis shops and growers. Without the regulations, there could be restricted options in many areas for consumers who are looking forward to ringing in the new year with a legal marijuana purchase.
“The bulk of folks probably are not going to be ready Jan. 1,” conceded Cara Martinson of the California State Association of Counties.
Cannabis in California will be treated like alcohol, permitting people 21 and older to legally possess up to an ounce and grow six marijuana plants at their home.
Come January, the newly legalized recreational sales will be combined with the state’s twenty-year-old medical marijuana market, which is also undergoing stronger regulation.
The state plans to issue only temporary licenses in January, and has yet to announce its plan to govern the estimated $7 billion marketplace.
If businesses aren’t licensed and making sales in the legal market, governments aren’t collecting their part of revenue. The state alone says it could see approximately $1 billion come in within several years.
Operators have argued about what they see as potential conflicts in various laws and rules, or seemingly contradictory plans.
The state expects businesses with licenses to only work with others that hold them. These rules have worried operators who wonder what will happen if their suppliers decide not to join the new legal market.
Others say they are unsure of what could happen in cities that don’t pass marijuana laws, but they warn it could open a loophole for businesses to set up shop. Some communities have prohibited recreational sales completely.
Most banks still refuse to do business with marijuana operators- marijuana remains illegal under federal law- and there are also issues obtaining insurance.
With the legalization of recreational marijuana approaching, “we don’t have enough of anything,” lamented Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association, a marijuana industry group. Unlike the state, cities and counties face no deadline, but the concern is that confusion about local rules could prevent operators from entering the legal economy, which could feed the black market and undercut the legitimate one.
The cities of California are anxious to get the recreational market up and running as soon as possible, as long as there are no obstacles in their way.