California’s Got One Year to Figure out How to Make $7 Billion in Weed

Is that enough time for lawmakers to handle the legalization process?

California is looking at a possible $7 billion pot industry in the future. That means $1 billion in taxes alone. And while the state government scurries to get all the necessary legal procedures in order to regulate and profit from the weed market, there’s still a lot of roadblocks, and more importantly, not a lot of time. They've got one year to get it right. 

From Associated Press:

Getting it wrong could mean the robust cannabis black market stays that way — outside the law — undercutting the attempt to create the nation’s largest legal marijuana economy. The new industry has a projected value of $7 billion, and state and local governments could eventually collect $1 billion a year in taxes.

Sen. Mike McGuire, a Democrat from Northern California (the place of milk and honey for weed growers) says he’s not sure the state can meet their January deadlines to form a regulated marijuana industry by the set deadlines. And, he thinks it will be a challenge to create one legal system that truly supports and includes medical marijuana and the black market.

“It’s going to take us 10 years to dig out of the mess we are in,” predicted McGuire tells the Associated Press.

That $7 billion in weed profits won’t come easily if the state can’t figure how to properly regulate the newly legal industry. And worse, it’s just not as easy as it seems.

For example, the Associated Press reports that “tens of thousands of people and businesses will need licensing.” And that means there’s a lot of work ahead of the government folks who are tasked with making the marijuana industry a working, legal, safe space. They’re responsible for things like water quality for fish in streams near grows, and how they should collect millions of dollars from businesses who are cash-only.

That $7 billion in weed profits won’t come easily if the state can’t figure how to properly regulate the newly legal industry.

The new regulations will require lawmakers to come up with at least 20 types of licenses for farmers, labs, delivery services, distributors, and dispensary operators. These laws should be in written, and ready to go, by January 1, 2018, leaving these people watching a ticking clock.

One of the many California farms needing licensing (via)

These people are a team of 11 and they are working out Oakland, led by California’s top pot regulator, Lori Ajax.

While government officials and weed-industry gurus think that it’s almost impossible to figure out the legal weed laws in a year, Ajax thinks she can certainly meet the deadline.

“We’re confident that we can get this accomplished,” Ajax said.

Now, she’s got the support of California Governor Jerry Brown.

From Associated Press:

Earlier this month, Gov. Jerry Brown proposed spending more than $50 million to establish programs to collect taxes and issue licenses while hiring dozens of workers to regulate the industry, a figure some say is too low. His office stresses that one regulatory framework is needed, not separate ones for recreational and medical cannabis, even though there are laws for each that could duplicate costs and confuse businesses.

One of the new law’s requirements calls for the state to develop a computerized system to track cannabis, sometimes called “seed-to-sale” monitoring. It’s envisioned that scanners will be used to keep tabs on pot as it moves from the leafy raw product to street-level sales.

And while that might be a help to Ajax and her team, a lot of naysayers don’t think one year is enough time to make it all happen. With $7 billion on the line, hopefully California can handle its weed.