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California Was Promised a Green Rush. Why Hasn’t It Arrived?

Marijuana prohibition ended in California in 2016. Since then, progress has slowed. MEDIANEWS / GETTY
The stretch of La Brea between Sunset and Santa Monica is always congested. But these days it’s swelling thanks to a new roadblock: the line of cars queuing up for the valet stand outside Lowell Café, a new Hollywood restaurant where you can order a joint and puff away right at your seat.

“We’re not open full time, yet,” Lowell Café Chef Andrea Drummer tells InsideHook. “On a slow day we’re doing over 600 covers.” On a busy day, they’ll turn over 800.

Drive by a Med Men, the popular line of dispensaries that are designed with the slick open-floor plans of an Apple Store, and you’ll see them teeming with customers and red-shirted employes.

Observers — both local and visiting — see this and remark that cannabis legalization is enjoying a kind of gold rush. But while Proposition 64 (cannabis legalization) won 57 percent of the vote in 2016, it’s only been ratified by 100 of the 500 counties in the state. Thus far, only 600 recreational dispensaries have opened in California, some of which aren’t operational yet. By contrast, Colorado has roughly the same amount … with a population barely a sixth the size of California’s.

According to a report by Archview and BDS Analytics, 80 percent of the cannabis market in California remains illegal. The same report found that while the legal market posted revenues of $2.5B last year, the black market saw an uptick as well, growing to $8.7B.

In April, The New York Times reported on a bust in Mendocino that nabbed 500 pounds of cannabis. Of the 14 million pounds of cannabis produced in the state every year, less than 20 percent of it is consumed here — the rest is shipped illegally. Fish and Wildlife reports unearthing twice as much illegally farmed pot since legalization, and destroyed 1.8 million plants last year, as opposed to 700K in 2017.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Reuben Brody on InsideHook

Published: November 08, 2019

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