The Green Machine’s Black Market

Both legal and illegal marijuana sales are thriving under the fledgling years after Prop 64’s passage.

It’s official: California is now the world’s largest market for legal marijuana, estimated to pull in a record $3.1B in legal cannabis sales in 2019. Unfortunately, under Proposition 64—which decriminalized the personal possession and use of marijuana back in 2016—marijuana has been so strictly regulated and expensive to produce that the black market has flourished. By year’s end, it’s estimated that people will spend $8.7B on illegal marijuana. Critics blame Prop 64’s stringent regulations, which have created a strange offset of stats.

As of today, there are 583 licensed shops and 263 licensed home-delivery firms in the state, yet 76% of cities and 69% of counties have banned stores. As modifications are made to taxes and more companies learn their way around the regulations, pundits expect those numbers to even out, with projections that the legal market will surpass illicit sales around 2024.

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