The battle for recreational weed in California has been longstanding, and mixed with fear and opposition from many different sides. With the passing of Prop 67, to make the substance recreational in the state, many new opportunities have come out.
One of the most notable pros of the new law is the amount of tax revenue that the state will take in. A report from the company BDS Analytics came out recently showing that sales of cannabis will hit $3.7 billion during the 2018 year, with the next year seeing an almost doubling of that amount. As the market increases in value from the actual purchasing of the plant, the tax revenue will also continue to be on the rise. The tax currently sits at 15% from the retail level but growers are also subject to a $9.25 per ounce tax on flowers and $2.75 per ounce on cannabis leaves.
The issue with the high amount of taxation is that it is leading to an unexpected growth in the black market. Grams of weed have gone from the price range of around $8-12, to $13-17 with the new taxes. This has helped to usher in a new era of black market sales. People will often go straight to the growers where they can buy a large amount and then sell it to individuals without them having to pay any taxes.
With any new law, there will always be some sort of backlash, but Prop 67 has more pros than it does cons. One of the main intentions behind the legislation is to use the tax revenue for other purposes. California has come out stating that they will use the money that they gain, which is expected to be around $1 billion for the first year, to build schools, support law enforcement and help fight against drug abuse by building out the state’s resources. Some of the money will also be distributed to various different agencies such as the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Department of Food and Agriculture and the Department of Fish and Wildlife. All of these contributions will help to grow the state’s economy and support infrastructure throughout.
A portion of the money will also go to the University of California system, which is currently the largest employer in the state. The money will help to fund research on not only the plant, but how the legislative actions are affecting the state. The state has plans to spend around $10 million on the studying of how legal marijuana impacts public health, safety and the price of marijuana on the market. These are all extremely important for knowing where the industry will go and what are the weaknesses that need to be worked on.
A long running debate for the legislation is how it will affect those who have been submitted to the legal system for non-violent marijuana-related crimes. Many individuals and legislators have stated how they believe in the release of these inmates with some sort of rehabilitation program, given that their arrest records would not be valid if committed today to some extent.
With the legalization of marijuana comes the impact it has on those who decide to drive on the substance. The state has decided to allot around $3 million annually to the Department of the California Highway Patrol, to help with the enforcement of existing DWI laws. The agency will also have to figure out new protocols as to decide how to tell when one is driving under the influence of the subject and whether or not the punishment will be the same. The CHP will also be able to use the only to fund research into how they can accurately detect the amount of the substance in ones body at the time of driving. Since a substance like alcohol can easily be detected in the breath of an individual with a breathalyzer, marijuana is not as easy to detect. This is an area that continues to face challenges, but hopefully with this new money, they will be able to solve the issue.
The state of California has long been at the forefront of many social and political issues throughout the country, leading the fight for new freedoms. As this new marijuana bill continues to see massive amounts of success, the hopes are high that time will help to heal any existing issues with the legislation.