Recognizing the truth behind the legalization of marijuana

By Davi Hor

The marijuana market is estimated at $7 billion, but with new regulations, many will be driven toward the black market which defeats the purpose of legalization. On January 1, 2018, California  Proposition 64 will allow the sale and taxation of recreational marijuana.  Prop 64 was on the November 8, 2016 ballot and resulted in 57 percent in favor of the proposal.

Now one year later, people will be able to openly farm, sell, and deliver marijuana under this law in California. Growers and sellers will be able to obtain a cannabis license for an annual fee ranging from $1200 to $80,000 depending on how large the growth establishment will be.

However, there are already issues arising according to the Associated Press. The AP states that in order to apply for a license, a grower or seller will need a permit but many cities are having trouble establishing those rules including the two largest markets, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The inability to obtain a permit and the headache that people have to endure going through the process to obtain the license will drive people to operate their business within the black market. If not already so, it is pointless to legalize marijuana when many will stay underground and will never be accounted for.

If the grower or seller somehow completes, what sounds like a tedious process of obtaining the license and is able to successfully farm and sell the cannabis, the next step of maintaining the business is to pay to the taxes to Internal Revenue Service. This is probably the biggest motivation for people to maintain or begin businesses in the black market because at the start of next year the state will levy 15 percent on all marijuana purchases by consumers.  

On Thursday the Bureau of Cannabis Control released 276 pages of a new rule book for the California cannabis industry with a long list of rules and regulations for operating a legal cannabis business, which will probably single-handedly keep the black market thriving.

Shops cannot open later than 10 p.m. therefore, an opportunity for the black market to step in and fulfill that demand is very likely. The size of edibles will be limited to 10 mg per serving and 100mg per package. The license holder is restricted to sell in adult clubs. All products must be tested, tracked and labeled, just to name a few. These few rules will continue to give opportunity to illegal sales of the drug.

The biggest factor is that marijuana prices will be expensive in the legal market when recreational sales and taxation goes into effect in January. For this very reason, many people will still look to purchase in the underground market, which will continue to contribute to the survival of it.

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