California has long been one of the most progressive, left-leaning states in the United States. Accepted to the Union in September 1850, the United States brought aboard a state with at least 55 years’ worth of experience in the cultivation of cannabis. The plant was made partially illegal in 1913 via a California state amendment, with more statues against the use, harvest, cultivation, or possession of the plant being kicked into gear in 1915.
In 1975, the Moscone Act decriminalized the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, though fines for simple possession could run up to $100. 1996’s Proposition 215 made medical cannabis legal. Just three years ago, in 2016, Proposition 64 made California one of the first states to allow recreational marijuana use.
Since then, dispensaries have popped up all over the Golden State. Let’s take a look at nine facts about Californian cannabis dispensaries.
1. Proposition 64 Didn’t Kick Into Effect For A While
Just like many pieces of legislature, Proposition 64, which accepted ballots from registered Californian voters on Nov. 8, 2016, didn’t come into effect until February 1, 2018.
Throughout California, dispensaries that had met the stringent guidelines set forth by the state’s legislature and local-level officials before Jan. 1, 2018, were able to legally begin selling cannabis and cannabinoid-containing products to consumers who had a valid identification indicating they were at least 21 years of age.
2. Dispensaries Take On Substantial Costs From Annual Dispensary Licenses
In the state of California, recreational and medical cannabis dispensaries are not eligible to receive active licensure for longer than one full year. While temporary licenses, which last 120 days, are free, real-deal annual dispensary licenses that cannabis retailers in California must possess to legally do business cost between $4,000 and $120,000. Here’s how the cost breakdown looks:
- Projected value below $750,000 – $4,000.
- Projected value between $750,000 and $2.5 million – $20,000.
- Projected value between $2.5 million and $7.5 million – $64,000.
- Projected value upwards of $7.5 million – $120,000.
3. Cannabis Retailers Can’t Sell To Both Medicinal And Recreational Users
Retail cannabis dispensaries in California can determine whether consumers are medicinal or recreational users. Licenses with a capital A on them indicate adult use, better known as recreational use. Those stamped with a capital M are indicative of medical-use consumers. While most retail cannabis shops only serve one of the two classes of cannabis consumers, they do have the option of selling to both, believe it or not.
However, they must receive licensure from appropriate government bodies in California to serve both types of consumers. This measure costs significantly more than licensure for single-demographic shops.
4. California’s Marijuana Industry Is A Seller’s Market
In 2013, the Colorado Retail Marijuana Code was implemented by the state after it welcomed ballots on an initiative to legalize and regulate recreational-use cannabis. It was the first state in the United States to welcome legal recreational-use cannabis for of-age adults, similar to how legal alcohol is regulated.
California has a significantly larger market than Colorado. Further, California’s legal weed sales still offer an intangible novelty factor to consumers. For these two reasons, California’s legal recreational-use cannabis products can cost more than six times as much as those in Colorado!
5. Products Don’t Necessarily Expire, But They Have Been Rendered Unsellable Before
On July 1, 2018, the state of California required dispensaries across the state to halt the sale of all products that had not been lab-tested by independent, certified service providers for a state-specified variety of pesticides, contaminants, and cannabinoid concentration levels.
The requirements were put into action a full six months after recreational-use cannabis became legal in the state of California. Although one might think that a successful dispensary would be able to sell their inventory in six months’ time, many of them bit off more than they could chew.
The United Cannabis Business Association, a California-based organization that advocates for cannabis-friendly laws and regulations, estimated that the total potential loss of dispensaries on July 1, 2018, as a result of the regulation being put into place was as high as $400 million.
6. Recreational Users Can Purchase How Much At Once?
California’s dispensaries can only sell a maximum of 28.5 grams of cannabis flower to adult-use consumers at once. While some states’ monthly consumptions are tracked, California’s consumers’ intake levels are not. As such, they legally buy up to slightly more than one ounce of flower at dispensaries, though they can’t legally possess it.
7. Cannabis Businesses Can Apply For Tons Of Types Of Licensure
In California, businesses hoping to get into the marijuana industry can apply for seven types of licensure:
- Cannabis event organizer.
- Testing laboratory.
- Retail dispensary.
8. California Raked In How Much Money In 2018 From Cannabis?
In 2018, California sold a total of $2.757 billion in cannabis and cannabis-derived products like extracts and edible cannabinoid-infused candies across both of its medicinal and adult-use programs at the retail level.
9. Black Market Weed Is Way Cheaper Than Bud From Dispensaries
Just two months ago, in Dec. 2018, market research found that high-grade cannabis flower sold for an average of $20 per eighth-ounce, which is equal to 3.5 grams, coming out at a per-gram cost of just $5.71.
Cannabis flower of roughly the same cannabinoid content, taste, bag appeal, and other qualities used to judge the quality of cannabis as its high-grade, black-market-sourced counterpart costs about $50 per eighth-ounce, a common weight that cannabis is purchased in. The per-gram cost of legal weed averaged about $14.29 per gram last year in California.
Many people are drawn to purchasing marijuana from licensed dispensaries in California for reasons including increased quality, better service, greater accountability, and being able to publicly source reviews of legal vendors online, though some people choose to stay illegal due to lower prices found on the black market.