Twenty years after approving medical marijuana, Californians come 2018 will be able to consume it for recreational purposes, too, and the localities that have reaped the most from legal cannabis sales may be best positioned for what could be a billion-dollar windfall.
Elections matter. The people have spoken. And marijuana — more appropriately known by the less pejorative label, cannabis — is now legal for adults in eight states, including California, and for those with medical needs in 28 states. That means the majority of Americans now live in states where cannabis is legal in some form.
One of the biggest challenges facing California “pot czar” Lori Ajax in developing the first statewide regulations for medical marijuana might simply be getting folks to grasp what she and her team are and are not doing.
There is an old jest that says the fastest way for a business to run off its customers is to adhere to the motto, “In God we trust; all others must pay cash.” But for Kimberly Cargile, director of the East Sacramento medical marijuana dispensary, A Therapeutic Alternative, cash and carry is her only option. And it really is no laughing matter.
Sacramento City Council has outlawed outdoor cultivation by legal cannabis patients, citing public safety and smell concerns. Now, added to this ban is the classification of cannabis cultivation as wasted water: Patients are no longer allowed to water legal, indoor plants, yet there is no penalty on those growing equally-legal crops hydroponically indoors, like tomatoes or herbs. What legal right does the council have to single out this particular crop when cultivated in accordance with local and state laws?
At least one if not two ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana use are almost assured to be on the November 2016 ballot for California voters. But while many folks see the legal sale and taxation of pot as a way to pump big money into the state’s coffers, the experiences of legal-weed states like Washington and Colorado show the road from green bud to greenbacks has more than its share of potholes.
In the past few months, Sacramento County’s burgeoning medical marijuana industry has been slashed by two-thirds. Federal and local officials are slapping landlords with fines and criminal charges if they lease or rent to such establishments. In August, Sacramento County was home to 99 medical marijuana dispensaries. By November, more than 63 had closed.