The world’s biggest marijuana market will open for business in three months, as marijuana sales for residents 21 and older become legal in California. Voters passed Prop. 64 in November 2016 with the idea that issues regarding the law would be settled before Jan. 1, 2018. Jan. 1st is also the day state licenses will be issued for every type of marijuana business, from cultivators of medical cannabis to distributors of recreational marijuana.
But these details aren’t set in stone, as the state continues to work out plans for a temporary licensing program that will keep California on track to certify businesses at the start of 2018. Because of that, It is still unclear where Californians will be able to buy recreational marijuana since state law gives cities and counties first say as to whether cannabis businesses will be allowed in their borders.
Technically, any business that doesn’t have a state license will be operating illegally as of Jan. 1, but California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control isn’t going to be out in the field the first week of 2018 looking for businesses that aren’t licensed.
What it means for retail: California is having trouble getting its cards in order for the January 1st rollout date. Dispensaries have to account for both local and state rules, and depending on which locality they are opening in, they might not have the ability to be licensed by January 1st. While this is a hindrance, it is the state’s goal is to get operators in the regulated market. The more legal, registered operators in California, the more tax revenue, and retail opportunity there will be in the state. Look for the larger towns and local governments to step into high gear when they see all the potential revenue flowing away from their cities to merchants in other parts of the state.