California passed Proposition 64 on November 8th, 2016. Prop 64 is a 62-page document detailing and outlining the recreational marijuana program in California. In the document, it details how California will regulate and tax the growth, transportation, and sale of marijuana for recreational use. As it currently stands, adults aged 21 and over are currently allowed to possess and grow their own recreational cannabis, however, there are no recreational dispensaries open at this time, which means that people won’t have a place to buy legal, non-medical weed until retail stores are licensed. According to Prop 64, the state has until January 1st of 2018 to begin issuing retail licenses to prospective dispensary owners. But what about when the recreational stores do open? What will that mean for California? Here’s what we found out:
California and Colorado
California detailed their Proposition 64 to look very much like Colorado’s Amendment 64. Both documents allow for the legal use of recreational marijuana by adults aged 21 and over and allow these adults to grow their own cannabis. After seeing just how much our recreational program has done for Colorado, California decided it could benefit thoroughly with a similar program. Both programs are almost identical, in this manner. Basing their recreational program on ours isn’t a bad thing, either. Both programs are relatively loose, but there are still penalties and regulations in place to keep dispensaries clean and people taken care of.
In Colorado, we have more dispensaries than Starbucks and McDonald’s – combined. In Denver, there’s a dispensary on just about every block. Some are both medical and recreational, and some are one or the other, but the fact remains the same. California is emulating the Colorado recreational marijuana program, can we expect california pot shops to spring up on every corner? Will California pot shops become the new 7/11s? To answer these questions, we need to first take a look at what a recreational program in California will do, and what it won’t do.
Changes for California Pot Shops
Prop 64 is going to bring huge changes to the Golden State. California is already the largest market for marijuana in the country, and Prop 64 is going to change the way weed is regulated and used. There’s plenty of good, bad and ugly to go around, and we’ll cover it all.
Starting with the good changes, California can expect to see at least a minimum of 1 billion dollars in tax revenues when the rec stores open up. This means money going back into the schools, the roads, and the wellbeing of California communities. The reason this is forecasted is because of how closely California’s program emulates Colorado’s.
Weed will also be more regulated. As it currently stands, Californian’s don’t always know the potency of what they’re smoking. With the recreational shift, cannabis must be labeled accordingly with certain pieces of information, kind of like the nutrition facts on food. The information listed will include the Net weight of the marijuana, the origin of the marijuana, the date of cultivation, source and type of marijuana, the amount of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and other cannabinoids, listed in milligrams per serving, and whether any solvents, non-organic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers were used. Edibles must disclose the amount of THC.
Finally, the weed-related arrest rate will go down. The number of misdemeanor and felony crimes relating to marijuana use and distribution has already fallen significantly, since a 2010 state bill reduced possession of a small amount of pot from a misdemeanor to an infraction. Now that cannabis has been legalized in California, the penalties for adult personal use have been eliminated, so numbers are expected to drop even further. As long as you’re adhering to the california possession laws, you’ll be fine.
As for the bad news, California isn’t expecting to be rid of the black market for a while. If anything, California is concerned that citizens will smuggle recreational weed out of California and send it to states where cannabis is still illegal, much like Colorado’s problem with weed seeming into neighboring states. They’re expecting the black market to speed up before it slows down. The same with drug related crime in the beginning steps of legalization before any amendments can be made.
Looking at Colorado, California is also expecting an increase in marijuana related traffic accidents and DUI’s, however, it’ll be difficult to enforce a law to prevent people from driving high as it’s hard to detect the amount of THC in someone’s body at any given time, unlike alcohol.
Finally, the ugly news. California is expecting Big Marijuana to become the new Big Tobacco or Big Alcohol. The rise of legal recreational marijuana could bring in big industry players and mean the weaponization of marketing tactics to promote marijuana use, which makes the state look bad, and can cause an onslaught of other problems.
Another ugly issue is the rise of child hospitalization being imminent due to accidental consumption of recreational cannabis products. Studies in Colorado have shown that legalization had no uptick in teen cannabis use, but accidental consumption is an issue in every state with recreational marijuana. However, Colorado saw an uptick in the number of kids under 9 years of age that ended up in the emergency room due to marijuana exposure, according to a recent study in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
So What Can We Expect?
The Golden State is going green. It’s a fact of life now, and with almost a 60% approval rate, Californian’s have a lot to look forward to. With Prop 64 being so similar to Colorado’s Amendment 64, many experts are looking to Colorado to forecast the potential of cannabis in California. With the financial benefits as the driving force behind legalization, we can expect to see more communities in California getting the funding they desperately need for their schools, roads, and public parks.
It’s likely that california pot shops will become the new 7/11s, meaning that they could pop up on just about every corner. If that’s an issue though, residents and city-wide governments also have the power to determine whether or not they will allow recreational marijuana in their jurisdiction, meaning that localities have the authority to regulate, limit, or prohibit the operation of marijuana businesses.
Essentially, much like Colorado, some cities will be all for recreational pot shops on every corner, and other more conservative areas will opt out of the program altogether or limit the program to a certain number of shops in a certain area.
Consumption will likely shift, too. With legalization bringing the opportunity for recreational concentrates and edibles, California can expect a shift to edibles more than actual flower, another trend from Colorado after the initial legalization for recreational weed shift.
“We were all surprised by how much edibles were part of the recreational market.”
Said Andrew Freedman, director of marijuana coordination of Colorado. “A lot of that seems to be about the fact that marijuana-naive people would use edibles at the beginning because it seems like a more attractive way of using marijuana. I’m not sure that’s something that we could’ve known ahead of time.”
New users may be less likely to want to smoke pot, and more open to eating it. Those who have been using medical marijuana are likely to make the shift to concentrates and edibles as well.
Overall, California is going green. It comes with a lot of benefits and plenty of cons, but it’s going to be a great thing for the state’s tourism industry as well as the well-being of California’s people. So will California pot shops become the new 7/11s – sure. In some areas, you’ll definitely see a rapidly developing market, and in others, it’ll be like nothing even happened.
Congratulations, Cali! Keep an eye out for those rec stores opening up within the next year.