Wednesday, November 30, 2016

California Legalizes Recreational Cannabis

Article by Nichole Choice

On November 8, 2016, the date of a remarkably historic U.S. election, the People of the State of California voted Yes on Proposition 64 in favor of Marijuana Legalization.  This makes California the final Left Coast state to legalize it!

Previous California law restricted access to the plant to medicinal purposes only, but with the passage of Proposition 64, the law states that recreational cannabis consumption is legal for persons age 21 and over.  This Proposition has no impact upon Federal law.

Prior to the 2016 election, many in the cannabis community were divided on the topic of California Proposition 64, with a surprising number of opponents.  Why would some Californians, particularly those involved in the green industry, oppose this Proposition, and in contrast, what are the presumed benefits for the State of California, as well as, for that matter, the entire Left Coast?

The Downside

The anti-Proposition 64 individuals in the California cannabis community, including those in the medical field, have concern that such a law will create excessive rules and state regulations.  Farmers say they don’t want “the Man” meddling around in their business.  Many feel the system as a medicinal force was working just fine.  Dispensaries worry about loss of business if the liquor store next door, for example, starts selling recreationally.

A huge misconception with regard to the passage of Proposition 64 is that it would mean the cessation of the medicinal route, but nothing could be farther from the truth.  To the contrary, many medicinal dispensaries are remaining just that:  medicinal, with no recreational access.

The Upside

Let’s look on the bright side, since Proposition 64 is in fact a reality as determined by California voters 56.75% to 43.25%.  What might be the benefits the majority of California voters saw prior to casting their vote?  It all seems to come down to the mighty dollar bill.

Many Californians in favor of Proposition 64 frequently liken the Green Rush to the Gold Rush of years 1848 to 1855, believing this rapidly growing industry will create a massive boost to the state’s economy.  Are they right about that?  Well, just ask the state of Colorado...  

According to Entrepreneur Magazine: “More than 18,000 people in Colorado now have full-time jobs because of the legalized marijuana industry, which has generated a $2.39 billion impact on the Rocky Mountain State’s economy.”

It seems Proposition 64 proponents are right, because according to Business Insider, “California's looking at an additional $1.5 billion flooding into the marijuana market.”  Author Ben Gilbert emphasizes the weight of this surplus by pointing out that California is the sixth largest economy on the globe by saying, “only outpaced by the US (as a whole), China, Japan, Germany, and the UK. The Golden State's economic output for 2015 came in at $2.46 trillion.  Let's be clear: We're talking about a single US state economy compared with those of entire countries.”  

So looking at the big picture, what does all of this mean for California’s fellow Left Coast states of Washington, Alaska, and Oregon who have already legalized it?  Importantly, it means a strong alliance, influence, and statement to the rest of the country.  Every state in the U.S. watched closely to see what decision California would make with regard to Proposition 64.  California is perceived as a leader and trendsetter for the rest of the country.  With the entire Left Coast now aligned and legalized, this is sure to set an example for other states, and we’ll likely see a green carpet rolling out as more and more states legalize it.

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