Sometimes I get surprised when cannabis gets reduced to numbers.
Here are a few from California, courtesy of a Los Angeles Times story that recently featured Cannabis Industry stalwart Steve DeAngelo, who they day “runs what may be the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the U.S.”
The story digs into the troubles facing DeAngelo and other dispensary owners in the Golden State who are also convicted felons for old marijuana-related issues that would largely be ignored today. The Times says that “a new law says (DeAngelo) will have to get a state license by 2018 — and the state can reject applications from those with drug felonies on their records.”
But, that’s not what jumped out at me from the Times story. No what caught my eye were these mind-boggling statistics, such as:
- There are an estimated 1,250 medical marijuana dispensaries operating in the state of California;
- Cannabis sales in the Golden State hit $2.7 billion in 2015, according to industry groups;
- The total California state market for cannabis could reach $6.6 billion, if California voters approve recreational use, according to a recent report by New Frontier, an industry data collection firm, and ArcView Market Research.
Those are incredibly large numbers, and they show clearly that despite all the buzz around full legalization in places like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, they all pale in comparison to what will happen if California voters decide to legalize recreational marijuana next November.
Of course, Californians voted down full legalization back in 2010, as USA Today points out, but they also say that a lot has happened since then — including full legalization in a handful of states — and that the public mood about legalizing cannabis has dramatically changed.
“Today, it’s a different world. You have seen what recreational has done in Denver, in Washington. You see it works,” said Ata Gonzalez, the founder of G FarmaLabs, a California-based cannabis company also selling in Washington. He told the newspaper that he envisions tourists drawn to California is the same way they come for the wine.
“You can come to Cali, land, buy your cannabis,” he said. “I think it’s going to bring our revenues up tremendously.”
And, the newspaper also says that,
If passed, the (California) measure would create a new Bureau of Marijuana Control, require growers and sellers to pay taxes, and establish stiff penalties for anyone caught illegally diverting water, an aspect popular with environmentalists. It would tighten the state’s comparatively lax medical marijuana system and bar use by anyone younger than 21.”
That sounds stronger than it really is, because California has a history of bureaucratic ineptness that will surely make whatever the state government does to set up a cannabis control and taxation structure a lot less efficient than they say it will be.
But, even given all of that, the numbers ARE staggering. If California voters do follow the national trend and decide to fully legalize marijuana, it will set off an earthquake bigger than anything the San Andreas might trigger.
Yes, as November edges closer, it seems more and more likely that the Golden State will either push cannabis to a more golden future, or, provide a cautionary tale for what happens when are expectations become wishes and get ahead of reality.
Either way, November WILL be a huge turning point for America’s Cannabis Industry. The only question is which way will things turn — and will a positive outcome finally force the Feds to get on board?