Things are not well in the American marijuana industry. Despite an increase in awareness and acceptance there have been a number of hurdles and stiff resistance from certain factions. There is also no small number of logistical issues in terms of implementation of all the rules and regulations in a timely manner as well as getting the quality and quality of marijuana correct. Cannabis is still an illegal drug at the federal level, a position that is causing much difficulty both locally and internationally (Canadians can be refused entry and put on a black list if they admit to border officials that they smoke marijuana, even legally, in their home country).
California on thin Ice
California is the top pot producing state in the nation, with sales estimated to be in the region of $5 billion. This makes it a prime target for the Federal government, in particular Jeff Sessions. Sessions is the Attorney General of the US and has stated his devout opposition to marijuana. He has claimed that marijuana is a gateway drug to more hard-core substances and that marijuana is associated with an increased crime rate. However, these assumptions which underpin his policy against marijuana have been criticised as they do not have any basis in what the data or common sense are saying. The only reason it is associated with crime is because it is illegal, and if it was not illegal then there would be no correlations with a violation of the law. Secondly, all of the previous studies indicate that marijuana consumption actually acts as a gateway drug away from other hardcore substances, in particular opiate addiction.
Sessions has quietened down a little since his assertions. President Trump does not seem overly concerned with marijuana aside from votes and does not have the same stance as Sessions does, an indication of a possible ideological split. Nonetheless, many in the marijuana community still feel that a crackdown is imminent, and California is a prime location to make an example of.
A Lack of Responsibility?
It is estimated that last year California produced 4 times more marijuana than it consumed. Experts are contending that all the excess marijuana ended up in the black market of other states. The same surplus difficulty is still here, but it has gotten bigger. The wide gap between production and consumption came to light in a recent study commissioned by the state Department of Food and Agriculture.
Some analysts have suggested that come 2018 California will be producing 8 times more marijuana than demand. Even if this number has been propagated by experts it may still be exaggerated. But supply definitely exceeds demand by a huge margin. This is because of all the money involved in marijuana. Many are eager to climb aboard and get into the industry early. When rules and regulations come into place it is going to put many low-quality growers out of business. The new California Bureau of Cannabis Control is rushing to put regulations in place to begin issuing state licenses to grow, transport and sell marijuana starting Jan. 2. Those rules explicitly prohibit the export of marijuana to other states. According to Assemblyman Tom Lackey:
“If we want to avoid intervention from the federal government, we need to do everything we can to crack down on illegal activity and prevent cannabis from being exported out of state”
California officials say they plan to impose regulations to keep pot off the black market and ensure that marijuana offered for sale is safe. But leaders of the marijuana industry remain concerned the surplus will still need to be addressed.
There is no real question that Californian has become a black-market hotspot, a stance which many will find hard to swallow. Is it possible that the despised Sessions, had a point? There are thousands of illegal growing operations that have emerged in California. These operations are manned mainly by illegal immigrants. The result is an increase of black market sales, and of marijuana that is doubtless full of toxins and in no way regulated. These illegal grow sites are also completely destructive to the environment. According to Wildlife ecologist Craig Thompson:
“Some 50 different toxicants have turned up at grow sites… Growers use the poisons to keep rodents and other animals from eating the sugar-rich sprouting plants, from gnawing on irrigation tubing, and from invading their campsites in search of food. Acute rodenticides cause neurological damage and internal bleeding. Animals literally drown in their own blood or stumble around until they’re eaten themselves, passing the poison up the food chain to predators like owls and fishers.”
What can be Done?
In other words, from an environmental standpoint, it is a complete catastrophe. But this is most likely only temporary, and the matter is being addressed as more resources are geared towards these sorts of illegal growing operations. The proper way to address it is to proceed with legalization and regulation. This would mean that marijuana gets certified and tested for acceptable levels of toxins, and there would be no more environmental disasters. The black market would evaporate with legalization in California, but the difficulty lies in neighboring states. It will be up to neighboring states to address these difficulties in tandem with a crackdown in California.