California Weed

California’s marijuana market will soon have ‘thousands of retail stores,’ report says

Despite a series of obstacles and setbacks, California’s legal marijuana market is on track to continue growing in the coming years, according to a new report.

By 2024, cannabis sales growth in the Golden State will account for nearly a quarter of all sales growth in the United States, according to a report, “From Dispensaries to Superstores: Opportunities in U.S. Cannabis Retail,” issued by BDS Analytics and ArcView Market Research.

California voters legalized recreational use of marijuana in 2016, with sales becoming legal on Jan. 1, 2018.

The Golden State has had a rocky transition to the legal recreational cannabis market.

State lawmakers and regulators alike have sought to fix shortcomings in the 2016 law, from addressing the need for marijuana companies to access banking to preventing the sudden expiration of licenses for thousands of cannabis growers.

“While that market has faced initial difficulties as the industry and regulators dealt with the headaches of a new, untested regulatory scheme, rigorous new testing requirements, heavy compliance and tax burden and some slow-moving licensing jurisdictions, retailers in the state still managed to generate more than $2.5 billion in sales,” according to the report.

In the next five years, that amount could increase by $4.7 billion, the report forecasts, accounting for nearly a quarter of the predicted $20 billion in additional sales nationwide.

While California will continue to be a lucrative market for cannabis retailers in the near term , it will also be a competitive one, the report says.

With California now allowing cannabis companies to deliver their product anywhere in the state, regardless of local ordinances, the report predicts those local jurisdictions will “get over their qualms in pursuit of tax revenue” and become more likely to approve license applications.

“There will shortly be thousands of retail stores in California,” the report said.

Just 35 percent of Californians 21 and older acknowledged using cannabis products within the last six months, according to the report. That’s compared to 47 percent of adults in Oregon, 41 percent in Colorado and 40 percent in Washington.

While some of that can be attributed to California’s more recent foray into the legal recreational market, the report found that that difference also was “likely due to the lack of retail coverage in many areas of the state.”

The report found that California has the lowest ratio of retail licenses to potential cannabis consumers, with just one retailer for every 34,256 adults 21 and older.

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Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for the Sacramento Bee. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.