California’s Legalized Pot May Fuel Washington Changes

With the passage of California’s Proposition 64 on Tuesday, the sixth-largest economy in the world just decided to legalize recreational weed. In short: It’s a pretty big deal, industry advocates say.

It is a huge part of the legal marijuana market in the U.S. right now, and it’s going to get substantially bigger now that it’s opened up to adult use. On top of that, there will be the significant Congressional power the state wields.

Federal Pot Bills?

Because California is so large from a population standpoint, there are a lot of members of Congress who represent districts in California. Now that they have this full adult-use legalization, the issues that we deal with at the federal level are going to be that much more important to them. The size of the California market coming online and being legal is going to be fairly significant. The economic implications are tremendous, and certainly there will be political implications.

Members of Congress also may very well look at the state and chalk it up to California being California, and that the state is regulating what was already happening in a gray market capacity. However, the ease at which the California legal market is formed and developed could carry some greater weight.

California Dreamin’

A move by California to legalize the recreational use of marijuana has been considered by some as a potential “watershed moment” for the cannabis industry. Some believe that by 202 California alone could have a $6.5 billion dollar legalized pot market – medical and recreational. As it stands now, the industry is projected to tally $7.4 billion in revenue this year. Half of the U.S. states have medical marijuana laws in place and several others have adopted the use of low-THC cannabis oil for limited medical purposes. On the recreational side, Colorado, the first to allow legal sales of adult-use cannabis, now has company in Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C.

But We Want It!

Public support of marijuana legalization also is at its highest-ever levels, according to recent polls by Pew Research Center and Gallup. The bulk of the support is coming from the younger generations, Pew’s survey showed. Earlier this year, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration stood pat on keeping marijuana a Schedule I substance on the Controlled Substances Act — in the same category as heroin and LSD — while easing some restrictions for research on the cannabis plant. Other policy experts say the success of the 2016 marijuana measures could potentially spur action at the nation’s highest office.

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