California is set to legalize recreational marijuana on January 1st, and while we might imagine that this would dramatically change things for the cannabis industry, the reality is most people won't see anything different at all.
ABC News published a report about how unready the state of California is for marijuana legalization. While the law will officially be changed, the truth is in most places things will pretty much be the same for the foreseeable future as cities and municipalities hammer out the actual details on what recreational marijuana will look like in their jurisdictions.
"The bulk of folks probably are not going to be ready Jan. 1," said Cara Martinson of the California State Association of Counties.
There's currently no real understanding for what the marijuana industry will look like in California. The state government has not released its plans for how it plans to regulate the market, despite plans to start offering temporary licenses to sell cannabis in January. Likewise, many major cities, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, have also not released their regulations for the industry and explained how dispensaries should operate within their boundaries. San Jose, the state's third-largest city, has actually instituted a ban on non-medical marijuana sales.
While the state is obligated to legalize marijuana by January 1st, cities are under no deadline and can take as long as they want before implementing recreational marijuana. In fact, it looks like the only major city that will be ready to legalize cannabis on January 1st will be San Diego.
People in the marijuana industry have raised many concerns about the launch of the recreational market. The government says that licensed businesses can only work with other licensed businesses, and that could limit the amount of available supply if certain growers or dispensaries decide not to obtain a license. Banks are also refusing to work with marijuana businesses, and there's very limited insurance options for them as well.
Previous states that legalized marijuana were able to take their time to figure out how to best implement their policies. California is on a rushed path towards recreational cannabis, and it looks like things will be sloppy. But that's probably just what happens when the largest state in the country decides to throw out long-standing laws.
(h/t ABC News)