Article from Reason by Jacob Sullum.

State-licensed sales of recreational marijuana began a year ago in California, and so far things are not turning out quite the way officials expected.

While “state officials estimated there would be as many as 6,000 cannabis shops licensed in the first few years,” the Los Angeles Times reported last week, “the state Bureau of Cannabis Control has issued just 547 temporary and annual licenses to marijuana retail stores and dispensaries.” The New York Times notes that legal cannabis sales totaled $2.5 billion in 2018, which is about $500 million lessthan in 2017, before the first recreational shops opened. Marijuana tax collections amounted to $234 million at the end of September, which suggests the total for 2018 will be less than half what officials predicted and less than a third of the $1 billion annual haul they were expecting within a few years.

What went wrong? Nothing really surprising. California is regulating and taxing the hell out of cannabis, which makes it hard for legal suppliers to compete with the state’s longstanding, extensive, and highly developed black market.

To begin with, marijuana businesses need local as well as state approval. Retailing is allowed in just 89 of California’s 482 cities and just six of the 88 municipalities in Los Angeles County. State law permits home delivery, which should provide a way around local bans, but the Bureau of Cannabis Control has yet to finalize a proposed rule that says deliveries are allowed in towns where storefronts are prohibited.

Read the entire article at Reason.

Image Credit: By Chmee2 (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons