Californian retail cannabis shops opened to the public for the first time as the state legalized recreational pot use on January 1. The illegal cannabis market in California was worth an estimated $5.1 billion in 2017 but the legal market should reach $5.8 billion by 2021.
World’s Largest Legalized Recreational Marijuana Market
January 1, 2018 marked the first day that marijuana could be sold and used recreationally in California. Supporters of the newly legalized recreational drug say the state could easily become the top legalized market for the product in the world.
Many parts of the rest of the country continue to consider the purchase and use of cannabis for recreational products to be against state laws. However, dispensaries in California can now sell to customers provided they prove their age with identification such as a driver’s license.
Dispensaries have already been able to sell medical marijuana for over twenty years. However, the newest change to the California law has made it possible for consumers to purchase pot for recreational purposes as well.
An Important Achievement for the Cannabis Industry
While California is not the only legal market for recreational marijuana in the United States, it is expected to be the biggest. The entire west coastline including Alaska can now legally sell the drug. More states are expected to roll out similar laws as 2018 progresses.
That said, the number of dispensaries that can sell recreational cannabis will increase gradually in California. The rollout will be slow and is expected to include a few pauses along the way. Only a handful of cities in the state are permitted to sell it so far. At the moment, they include Oakland, Berkeley, San Diego and San Jose. That said, Los Angeles and San Francisco won’t be far behind in issuing dispensary licenses as well.
As the Market Moves Forward
At the moment, there are about 100 dispensaries throughout California with a license to sell the product, according to California Bureau of Cannabis Control spokesperson Alex Traverso.
Many are curious to see whether or not growers who have previously remained in the black market, will continue to sell illegally or if they will decide to join the legal marketplace. Until now, they have shown more than a small amount of reluctance to turn to legitimate business.
Either way, this industry is worth billions of dollars (predicted at $31.4 billion by 2021) in the next few years and tens of billions in the not so distant future.