Retail marijuana is spreading to California, Massachusetts and Maine

Retail marijuana is spreading to California, Massachusetts and Maine

Recreational marijuana sales will launch in three states next year, including the biggest one of all: California.

 It’s already for sale in five states, but the addition of a legal retail marijuana market in California, with its massive economy and population, will dramatically change the landscape.

California is aiming to open retail marijuana stores by January 1, Massachusetts and Maine plan to open stores next summer.

“We obviously still have a lot to do, but yes, we’re going to be ready to go on January 1,” said Alex Traverso, spokesman for the Bureau of Cannabis Control in California. “We will be issuing new regulations in November, so we’re hard at work on those at the present time.”

Among the checklist of expected regulations is new oversight on water usage — like drip irrigation and reusing waste water — that could prove expensive for marijuana businesses. Other rules will require licensing and background checks for distributors and safety and education training for consumers.

Dispensaries like Green Alternative, which has 10,000 patients in San Diego, are getting ready to add non-medical customers to their clientele.

“We are in the process of stockpiling cannabis in order to fulfill the market needs,” said Zach Lazarus, COO of the Green Alternative. “We believe there will be a huge rush. We go through two to four pounds [per day] on average, and we anticipate going through three to four times as much when we open the doors for recreational.”

This requires not only stockpiling pot, but negotiating hurdles on the state and local level, for licensing, zoning, taxation and other issues.

Erik Altieri, executive director of the pro-legalization group NORML, said it might take longer than January “to set up the regulation process and to work out how the new recreational market will exist alongside its already quite large medical market.” Read More…