With California’s legal weed industry officially underway, it should come as little surprise that there have been a few issues surrounding the burgeoning recreational marijuana circuit. With regulations primitive and, frankly, underdeveloped, the state will have their hands full the next few months trying to come up with the perfect cocktail of bylaws to properly serve the plant to its large base of consumers while also appeasing those who are lukewarm on the idea of legal pot. And surprisingly enough, while California remains North America’s largest producer of marijuana, one of the biggest issues facing the legal weed industry is, ironically enough, supply. Which begs the ultimate question: is California about to run out of legal marijuana?
A Potential Pot Shortage
While California’s overall marijuana supply remains as fruitful as ever, the same can’t be said for its legal weed industry, where primordial regulations are hindering growers from receiving the proper licensing and permits to legally grow weed, and in turn, meet the demand of the recreational weed market.
Although California rolled out regulations for adult usage last month, they’ve not been able to keep up with the licensing approval process. In fact, Los Angeles is so far behind that they haven’t even begun to license their dispensaries—let alone the growers who give them the supply. And to make matters worse, L.A. has prioritized the licensing of pre-ICO dispensaries over indoor growers, which could draw out the process even further.
While this might seem like a bizarre turn of events for a state that has been synonymous with cannabis for decades, many in the industry are not all that surprised. In fact, most of them saw the question of “Is California about to run out of legal marijuana?” coming.
Marc Wasserman, an acting cannabis attorney and one half of the L.A.-based law firm Pot Brothers at Law, says those heavily involved in the industry expected to see such problems arise, due to the underdevelopment of proper regulations regarding adult consumption of cannabis.
“It was the beginning of 2017 when [regulators] said, ‘Yeah, we’ll be done with these regulations by November,’ and most of us laughed and said they were crazy—and they were,” he said. “Same with LA: Permit applications were supposed to come out in October, then before Christmas, then on Christmas, then the first of the year, then it was Wednesday and then it was only open to pre-ICOs.”
Lori Ajax, the state’s top pot regulator, also admitted this could serve as a potential hindrance during an L.A. Times interview preceding California’s January 1st inception of recreational weed.
In the piece, Ajax said she expressed concern that the state hasn’t “licensed enough people throughout the supply chain, and geographically across the state, so people can continue to do business.”
Final Hit: Is California About To Run Out Of Legal Marijuana?
So, is Calfornia about to run out of legal marijuana?
While, theoretically, California could scramble to meet the supply demands, the state’s current trajectory makes that look like a longshot—with growers vying to secure a spot in the legal industry, but to much delay.
As it is, the licensing costs remain steep for growers, and the availability of facilities within permitted zoning areas remains scarce. However, these remain trivial nuisances if cities cannot grant them a temporary permit to begin with.
While Wasserman claims there have been unlicensed, illegal shops ramping up throughout the state, most legal shops don’t want to run the risk of losing their licensing by turning to the black market to re-up their supply.
However, with California currently employing a temporary set of regulations until they finally figure out a definitive set of bylaws, this problem could, feasibly, be solved with a softer set of rules surrounding the recreational market. For growers and distributors alike, hopefully, that becomes the case. But that remains to be seen.