Saturday, June 15, 2024

How California’s Legal Weed Caused Marijuana To Grow Up

When California launched its fully-legal recreational marijuana market at the beginning of 2018, there wasn’t as much noise surrounding the event as heard in other legal states.

That’s because marijuana has been considered legal there for the past 20 years. In some circles, California’s loose medical marijuana program was considered vastly superior to the recreational marijuana scene in spots like Colorado. Nevertheless, the voters in the Golden State approved a fully-legal market in 2016, essentially making medical marijuana cards absolute for all adults 21 and over.

One of the primary reasons advocates pushed for a fully-legal market was to stop police from busting thousands of people across the state for weed. The law now dictates that pot possession is legal and many people convicted of this offense, in the past, are now getting the opportunity to have their records cleared.

The legalization of recreational marijuana is allowing the industry to grow, too. As the New Yorker said in a recent piece, “gone are the purple bongs, sexy nurses, dancing bears. In place of these skanky, skunky holdovers is an array of alluring products whose seduction lies in their eminently rational design.”

There will always be those customers who prefer smoking marijuana, but cannabis companies, like Dosist and MedMen, are developing more socially acceptable products for the legal stoner. Products ranging from disposable vape pens to edibles to liquids are becoming more prevalent.  By all accounts, “the new consumer (or the old consumer, reimagined) is not zonked in a La-Z-Boy watching Wayne’s World with a bag of chips,” but rather someone who can allow marijuana to be a part of their “therapeutic” routine without having concerns of law enforcement hassles.

But edible THC-infused products are in a transition phase. After Colorado legalized for recreational use in 2014, there were reports are children getting their hands on potent THC gummies. Emergency room visits by both young and old also became more common. People who purchased these products simply didn’t understand dosage. State lawmakers eventually brought forward restriction on how cannabis edibles could be produced and sold.

When California approved its recreational market, it automatically put manufacturing restrictions on cannabis edibles in an effort to make them less attractive to kids.

But California’s edible marijuana market goes beyond gummies and other THC-infused dime store candies. Some companies, like Lord Jones, are working to make “good nutrition relevant and chic.” This brand is focused on producing cannabis edibles that are high in the non-intoxicating compound cannabidiol (CBD), which creates a body high without the stoned effects.

In addition to the retail scene, cannabis-infused cocktails and juices are also becoming more popular all over the state.

But the industry is still volatile. Although California is now the largest cannabis market in the United States, the federal government still considers all of this activity illegal.

In fact, the Department of Justice recently rescinded an Obama-era memo that has allowed states to “experiment” with marijuana legalization without much federal interference. No one with certain what U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will do next with respect to legal weed. Most are not even worried. The state’s pot economy has an estimated value of $7 billion. It is expected the state could see $1 billion in annual tax revenue. So, if Sessions does come in with all guns blazing, he’s definitely going to have a fight on his hands.


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