5 Problems Facing California’s New Cannabis Economy

The first week of commercial sales of adult-use cannabis in California is almost over—and it’s raised more questions than it’s delivered answers.
Investment in the Cannabis Industry Grows
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5. More Problems Facing California’s New Cannabis Economy

5 Problems Facing California’s New Cannabis Economy

Ready for a quick thought exercise? Tell us: What do you know about California’s regulated cannabis marketplace? The only right answer is “between nothing and very little,” since that’s all anyone really knows. The unknown is one of the more insidious problems facing California’s new cannabis economy.

Will the millions of Californians who’ve managed to live in a state that produces 13.5 million pounds of marijuana annually without ever touching a gram themselves become daily consumers, now that cannabis is legal? We don’t know. Nobody knows. The cannabis industry certainly hopes so—that’s what they’re telling their investors—but nobody really knows.

We still have no idea what kind of products a regulated adult-use marketplace will produce. After all, everything on the shelves on Jan. 1 was there on Dec. 31, when everything was “still medical.” Nothing’s been tested for contaminants yet, put in the track-and-trace system, or ferried around the state by licensed distributors. Dispensaries can still sell stock that hasn’t gone through testing and edibles that exceed the 100 milligrams-of-THC threshold until July 1.

In other words, we’re still in a netherworld, an amalgam of what we’ve known under medical marijuana and what we may experience in the future. 

There’s plenty of potential and reason to celebrate. Things aren’t getting worse in this area, which is more than can be said for almost everything else. But a bright and verdant future is far from guaranteed considering these problems facing California’s new cannabis economy.

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