Californian residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana for adults over the age of 21 this November. The sweeping victory for California pot was short lived however as delays in the process have started to emerge. Under the new measure, residents should have been able to purchase pot from stores starting January 1st, 2018. Unfortunately now, according to industry insiders, it’s looking more like California pot consumers will need to wait until sometime in 2019. Many are disappointed by the news but as it turns out, ending prohibition is a little more complicated than everyone expected.
The main obstacle to overcome in the process is reconciling 2 separate marijuana laws that are in conflict on various points; the current medical marijuana law and Proposition 64, the recreational marijuana law, are in opposition. According to Assemblyman Jim Wood, who represents the California pot growing district in California known as the Emerald Triangle, “It is a very real challenge. Do we have 2 systems that move in parallel or one unitary system that combines the 2? My hope is that we can all sit down and work out the differences.” The 2 different cannabis laws conflict on many points including license categories, timelines and ownership requirements.
Issues with the California Pot Cultivation Tax
One of the major conflicts being addressed is the cultivation tax put in place by Prop. 64. Growers are frustrated by the cultivation tax placed on them by Prop. 64 which requires them to pay $9.25 per ounce of flower and $2.75 per ounce of leaves and stems. The medical marijuana law only places a retail tax on the plant. Growers are concerned about paying tax on trimmings that are thrown away. They are asking that it be placed only on the sellable product that is sent to the testing facilities. In order to make these changes two-thirds of the Legislature will need to vote for it.
Developing the Necessary Software
Another issue that could create delays is the tech needed to run the new industry. The state will need to create from scratch 2 different software systems. One will be needed for the licensing programs and another needs to be a “track and trace” software for tracking marijuana plants from seeds to processing and distribution. Neither of the software programs exists right now and creating fully tested systems for helping to run the industry will be time consuming and may take longer than the time allotted.
California was 1 of 4 states to legalize recreational marijuana this year. Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts also voted to end prohibition and now all states are undergoing the process to make this happen. The plant remains illegal on a federal level, still classified as one of the most dangerous drugs with no medicinal purpose, although as it stands now, well over half the country has legalized marijuana in some form. California’s influence on the rest of the country is strong and the moment the new industry is set up, it is likely to impact the trends in other states. Unfortunately, news of delays slow this process down but, as it stands, officials are doing the best they can and, regardless of the timeline, it is still an end to prohibition in this state.