California is set for the legalization of recreational marijuana. On the 2nd January this will take place, and customers can go to their local commercial outlet for their favorite strain of marijuana. The California marijuana industry is huge and estimated to be worth in the region of $6 billion, up from previous estimates of $5 billion next year. This figure is more than double the sales of Oregon and Washington combined. There is a lot of hype and anticipation surrounding marijuana in California, more than has ever been seen in any other state in the country, including Colorado, the first state to permit recreational marijuana in 2014. But there are a number of other factors to take into consideration when choosing your next joint in a retail outlet in LA or San Diego.
California Black Market
First, the California market needs to be accessed as it is. The reality is that California has too much marijuana from illegal growing operations. These operations are grown mainly by illegal immigrants, California being a hotspot for such immigrants, most notably Mexican cartels. The result is an environmental catastrophe according to many researchers. As The Atlantic reported:
“The lethal poisons growers use to protect their crops and campsites from pests are annihilating wildlife, polluting pristine public lands, and maybe even turning up in your next bong hit…grow sites tested positive for carbofuran, a neurotoxic insecticide that is so nasty it has been banned in the U.S., Canada and the EU. Farmers in Kenya have used it to kill lions…Some 50 different toxicants have turned up at grow sites… Growers use the poisons to keep rodents and other animals from eating the sugar-rich sprouting plants… Animals literally drown in their own blood or stumble around until they’re eaten themselves, passing the poison up the food chain to predators like owls and fishers.”
2nd January will be the testing point. At this point, marijuana will have to be tested. And importantly, most chemicals will be banned. Most growers are using a lot of synthetic growing materials which will not be allowed come 2018. And these chemical additives destroy the health properties of the weed, increasing the toxin count and reducing the cannabinoids found in the plant. This will put many of the illegal growing operations out of business, as the weed quality will have to improve or it won’t pass the test. In fact, some have estimated that only 10% to 15 % of all current growers will actually comply with the state standards. But many startups and first-time growers are going to be hit very hard, and we will see many of them go out of business. Which, harsh as this may sound, is how the free market works. Consumers will get the best quality weed from the best growers, free from toxins and high in beautiful cannabinoids. It will simply up the standards for the quality of weed that will be sold to consumers, which can only be said to be a good thing, especially in this current time when low quality marijuana is flooding the market but people believe that all weed is a wonder drug to cure all ills. Accord to Brian McCall, owner and operator of Blue Belly Farms which grows organic cannabis:
It is much harder to produce clean cannabis. It takes discipline, time and paying attention. There are so many ways to fail…You can’t sell it if it’s not in compliance with the new state law. The stuff that fails is going to go to the black market — or across state lines.”
Rise of the Black Market
But what will happen in a schism in the weed market. On one hand there will be high quality weed sold in shops and by specialist retailers where you can get certain blends and compounds, or weed that has particular qualities. Then there is the black market. With regulation also comes a black market of some kind, as it does drive prices upward. So, consumers will be left with a choice, they can buy expensive high-quality weed or toxin laden weed at half the price. Personally, touting the health benefits of marijuana as a prime reason for its legalization and then buying toxin laden weed to get high seems a little immature and hypocritical. But people may not have the luxury of buying such weed. In 2018, as these regulations come into place, the marijuana from the illegal growing operations is going to go straight to the black market, or possibly across the border. What is alarming is that the medical marijuana is actually showing an alarmingly high level of toxins. This is what happens when processes are centralized and monopolized. The organization has no incentive to grow quality products only to make as much profit as possible on a market that is in lock down.
What’s the Big Deal?
What is actually happening is wonderful to witness. There will be organic, locally grown cannabis with minimal intervention. And there will be lots of specialty blends as well as toxin laden low quality cannabis. Consumers will have a choice as to what they buy. The rules and regulations will serve to put the black market out of business and there will be a higher standard. With legalization the black market has been abolished, and after this batch of low quality marijuana hits the streets, it might not be seen again. But it all comes down to the market. If people are willing to buy toxic marijuana and smoke it the market will always be there. If they care about what they are smoking and pay extra, then there will be no black market. And if the price of locally organic marijuana grows too high, customers can simply grow their own. Legalization has brought choice to consumers, and though there are some teething difficulties the future of marijuana in California looks healthy and bright as they lead the way.