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What Can California Expect After 5 Years of Legal Marijuana?

As a reporter in Denver, I’ve heard endless jokes about Denver being a different kind of Mile High City and gotten accustomed to pointing curious visitors to dispensaries. The lessons of Colorado’s ups and downs with regulated marijuana have plenty to teach California as it tries to wrap its arms around the unintended consequences of legalization.

Some in Colorado’s marijuana industry feel as if the focus of the legalization debate is veering away from the Rockies and toward California. California is already a vastly larger market — about $2.5 billion in sales last year, compared with Colorado’s $1.5 billion. California has moved faster to clear marijuana convictions from people’s criminal records — a process that has been halting and frustrating for some in Colorado.

And while Colorado spent years debating where people should be able to socially consume the cannabis they had just legally bought, West Hollywood and cities in the Bay Area are allowing cannabis social clubs.

“We were the only game in town,” said Sam Kamin, a law professor at the University of Denver who studies legalization. “Boy, is that not true today.”

If Colorado is any guide, California’s problems with black-market marijuana aren’t going to vanish anytime soon. [Read More @ The New York Times]

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