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California’s Marijuana Market Could Be Worth $5 Billion, Study Predicts

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California is on the verge of creating a legal market for marijuana worth more than $5 billion that will help make the state a destination for pot-loving tourists, according to a new state-sponsored economic study.

But about 29 percent of all cannabis consumers may stay in the illegal market at first to avoid the cost of new regulations requiring marijuana to be tested, tracked and taxed at 15 percent of its retail value, according to the study by the University of California Agricultural Issues Center.

State officials developing the regulations hope to gradually persuade the vast majority of cannabis users to go through the legal market, said Lori Ajax, director of the state Bureau of Marijuana Control, which hired the center to look at the economic impact of the new rules.

“It’s going to take some time,” Ajax said. “While it’s unlikely that everyone will come into the regulated market on Day One, we plan to continue working with stakeholders as we move forward to increase participation over time.”

The economic projections are both encouraging and daunting to state officials who hope to begin issuing licenses in January to thousands of businesses that will grow, transport, test and sell marijuana, after voter approval in November of an initiative legalizing recreational use. [Read more at The Los Angeles Times]

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