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California Has Become The Poster Child For How Not To Legalize Cannabis

A few months ago, I wrote about the California cannabis industry striking back at the politicians in Sacramento and forcing them to reform Proposition 64, our adult-use legalization framework.

Everyone in the state knows it’s broken, but no one seems to be able to fix it. Year after year efforts to reform Prop. 64 fail in Sacramento, even with one-party rule by the Democrats. The situation is so bad that California has now become the poster child for how not to legalize weed.

At that time, I reported that the industry had unity I hadn’t seen in years and it appeared the will was there to win so that craft cannabis can survive in the state, and corporate cannabis can be profitable. After years of trying to build bridges, I saw all these stakeholders finally working together on reform.

It should be noted that craft cannabis producers and retailers in California created the first legal cannabis market in the world and set up the entire industry to come out of the shadows. Corporate cannabis would not exist today without the legacy people paving the way. They deserve to have a spot in the market they created and went to prison for. Even the big weed companies acknowledge this is true. The political force should be with the industry in Sacramento.

Now, the phantom menace known as the Democratic supermajority in Sacramento has counter-attacked with a dose of absurdity that’s hard to comprehend. Just when the industry worked so hard to gather consensus that bold reforms must be enacted, Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed one tax cut and one tax increase in his budget that cancel each other out and will do nothing to lower prices for consumers or provide relief to farmers or even larger corporations. His proposal will work about as well as moving furniture around on the deck of the Titanic.

Our otherwise progressive governor claims that this tax schizophrenia is the only way to keep the funds flowing from weed taxes to the special interests that benefit from them: law enforcement, education, and the environment. Yet the state has a $100 billion surplus; it would only take a fraction of that (less than 1%) to save legal cannabis in California and keep all funds flowing to the same special interests.

I won’t even mention his grants to locals to license more cannabis dispensaries because… Why waste words on it? The locals need sticks not carrots to lift the bans that should never have been done in the first place. Those bans are not motivated by money but by stigma, NIMBYISM, and prohibitionists. You need to take money away from them and exert power, not give it to them and cave.

The big question now is… How will the cannabis industry respond? I’ve been calling on more aggressive measures from the industry for two years. I’ve been working to build bridges between craft and corporate cannabis, as bad frameworks and tax policy hurt everyone. The unity I saw a few months ago needs to hold together now. Funding is needed if the industry is going to punch back and take control of their own future. Corporate cannabis has to step up with the cash, as a small investment towards their own profitability. If not, they may die a slow and miserable death when the tax man cometh, the underground market beckons, and the investors flee to other states and countries, which is what’s already happening.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Andrew DeAngelo on Forbes

Published: June 14, 2022

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