At his 11th State of the State Address on January 22, Governor Jerry Brown announced with tempered exuberance that, “California is back, its budget is balanced, and we are on the move.” Praising the efforts of bureaucrats, unions and educators, he celebrated his state's financial recovery. “All around us we see doubt and skepticism about our future and that of America's. But what we have accomplished together these last two years...belies such pessimism...The people have given us seven years of extra taxes. Let us follow the wisdom of Joseph, pay down our debts and store up reserves against the leaner times that will surely come.”
According to the new Governor's Office of Business and Economic development, 226,200 new jobs were created in California between November 2012 and 2013. Five thousand new companies were directly assisted by the office with untold more cropping up on their own. A wretched prison system is slowly being emptied of non-violent offenders. The Affordable Health Act has been implemented with few problems. Compared to the economic depravity crumbling many American states, especially the ones without medical marijuana, California is a hopeful, pleasant place.
At the heart of California's recovery is the non-profit medical marijuana industry. While some dispensaries pay local taxes to operate publicly, marijuana dispensaries here do not sell marijuana, but are reimbursed by members for procuring and storing it in a place where they have access to it. Since members of the state's registered 2,100 store-front dispensary collectives generally agree with price and quality, everyone is happy, especially vendors and service providers -- consultants, security companies, doctors, budtenders, cultivators -- who are paid with money, medicine or both. In most communities, when done on a small scale, those without medical marijuana cards can still use, grow and sell it with little fear of police intervention.
A mix of local regulations, coupled with clumsy attempts at implementing a state-wide system, has given rise to law and accounting firms that specialize in servicing dispensary collectives. A professional arbitration company solves cultivation disputes from a comfortable downtown office in Los Angeles. Up north, between San Francisco and Oregon, families who legally grow as few as 25 plants in their backyards can count on an extra $40,000 for a modest annual crop. Mayors, city council members and police officials from the state's marijuana community are being elected at a steady clip.
While other states attempt to regulate the marijuana industry through state bureaucracies, the Governor lauded California's fundamental approach to governance. Quoting a 16th century essay by the French writer Montaigne, he paved the way for cannabis collectives to exert control over their communities. “There is little relation between our actions, which are in perpetual mutation, and fixed and immutable laws. The most desirable laws are those that are the rarest, simplest, and most general; and I even think that it would be better to have none at all than to have them in such numbers as we have."
The Governor did not mention cannabis in his speech.