- The sale of recreational marijuana became legal in California this week, creating a market that is forecast to be valued at $63.5 billion by 2024, according to Stratton Report.
- Alex Traverso of California's Bureau of Cannabis Control told Smart Cities Dive that more than 100 dispensaries around the state have received licenses to sell recreational cannabis, and that number is expected to grow as more licenses are issued daily.
- The dispensaries are located "as far north as Mount Shasta and as far south as San Diego," said Traverso. Market growth is anticipated even though officials in Los Angeles and San Francisco have stalled applications for recreational permits, while cities like Riverside and Fresno have banned the sale of recreational cannabis completely.
Regulating California's recreational cannabis industry has been no small task. The state's Bureau of Cannabis Control spent months throughout 2017 attending town hall meetings, summits and various events to address cities' questions about the new market and to discuss licensing. And, despite the efforts leading up to Jan. 1, the bureau has a long road of work ahead. The bureau has only issued temporary, four-month licenses to the dispensaries due to regulatory setbacks, and working through "the process of enforcing our regulation" is a top priority, according to Traverso.
Since medical marijuana in California has been legal for more than two decades, the excitement around the new law — while certainly apparent — was not as overwhelming as in Colorado or Nevada when recreational cannabis became legal. Though the California cities currently selling recreational cannabis should remain aware of potential effects the law will have on the community.
Real estate prices and warehouse sales may increase due to location demand from both consumers and marijuana growers, and law enforcement will need to adjust to new safety threats — primarily around drivers. A study on the impact of marijuana legalization in Colorado found that fatal traffic accidents involving drivers who tested positive for marijuana more than doubled between 2013 (recreational marijuana legalization) and 2016. As a precautionary measure, California highways flashed signs that read "Drive high, Get a DUI" this week, according to the Los Angeles Times.
There are many benefits, however, to marijuana legalization that cities that banned the sales will not reap. The biggest of these benefits is the influx of local tax revenue, along with the eradication of many black market sales. One study even found that opioid deaths in Colorado are dropping due to the legalization of marijuana across the state. It's possible for some cities that banned the sales to reverse their decisions, though slow decision-making and regulatory processes suggests that the conversation will continue far into 2018.