Reader Rant: ‘How California Set Up the Licensed Marijuana Industry to Fail’

by on March 24, 2023 · 7 comments

in California, San Diego

By Midnight Toker

Very briefly, here is how the State of California set up the licensed marijuana industry to fail.

For context, in June 2021, the California Legislature had to approve a $100-million plan in order to bolster California’s legal marijuana industry, which continues to struggle……

Here is the receipt I received after purchasing an eight of an ounce (3.5 grams) of decent cannabis flower recently at a licensed dispensary (not in the city of San Diego):

As you can see, the total product cost was $39.99. But on top of that, government taxes to the tune of $11.91 were also added. This made for a total charge of $51.89  — that’s a increase of nearly 30%! (29.7% to be more exact) over the original price.

What other industry charges 30% taxes to customers?

This overcharge is what is hurting the licensed pot dispensaries and pot industry in the state in general. Customers look to other sources of weed because these prices are so high.

And government did this — state, county, city — all piled on top of the original marijuana legalization in the hopes of taxing the hell of it in order to fill their general coffers.

This state and local rush to straddle the new budding industry in the hopes of generating so much revenue that government leaders didn’t have to worry anymore about being complicit in crafting new laws and rules for a once illicit market, is now what burdens the very thing government wanted to see grow.


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Claisse March 24, 2023 at 12:42 pm

california is a laboratory for progress. someone has to take the risk and make big changes. we might not always get them 100% right, but that’s just how progress happens. the state deserves credit for being bold enough to actually take action and legalize MJ


Frank Gormlie March 24, 2023 at 3:05 pm

Michael, I think the author was not knocking that. What they’re knocking is how all levels of government jumped on top of the budding industry and with their taxes, is smothering it.


Sam March 24, 2023 at 5:45 pm

This is a market issue. The dispensaries could easily lower their prices to compete with the less than savory street dealers and put an end to their troubles immediately. Seems like greed on the business owners side to me.


Jill March 25, 2023 at 1:21 pm

This rant is spot on and taxes and local governments are in the hot seat! Check out the new Los Angeles Times article exposing corruption is California’s cannabis industry — big changes are coming!!!


retired botanist March 25, 2023 at 5:51 pm

Yep. 3 words: Greed, and pile-on. And let’s add impatience. Sure, we all recognize that the state could benefit (hugely) with a SMALL amount of tax and a longer vision, I think excluding medical consumers?, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We’ve seen taxing (abused) before- I don’t even know how much a packet of cigarettes (i guess defined as recreational?) costs in CA these days? In VA, a state that literally grew up on its tobacco crop, a package today costs $10. But gas is $3.19 (sorry CA, so unfair). But at the end of the day, I think Michael’s point is also valid: Thank God CA has always been a leader in initiatives that lead the way, slowly (and unfortunately expensively) for the rest of the country. VA has legalized, but the consumer can’t buy seeds, there are no dispensaries, and it will be another 5 years before it even vaguely resembles CA’s access. Sigh. :-)


Jan Michael Sauer March 25, 2023 at 9:03 pm

The majority of cannabis imports here in Texas come from Colorado and California. Watching legalization from afar it sure looks like Colorado did a better job than California. The above receipt shows $51.89 for 3.5 grams. That’s insane! One thing that you CAN take pride in is that California still grows the World’s Best Marijuana. That Emerald Triangle stuff is the very, very best.


sealintheSelkirks March 31, 2023 at 10:57 am

I disagree, Sam. This is not a market issue. Besides being a very easy plant to grow at home vs what we have now-corporate greed, this is all about revenue to the various governments below federal level.

Does anybody think that it ever would have been ‘legalized’ (sort of) without our dear leaders absolutely knowing what a money stream it was going to create? Since it still is a Federal Felony anytime the feds want to enforce their ‘law’ which supersedes all other local/state laws, it’s all about local revenue but I imagine that federal legalization would add another huge layer of taxes to be charged. Your local grower/dealer would still be a better deal especially if you know it truly is organically grown.

But then the DEA would be horrified since (last I read) about 85% of their busts are still cannabis. Imagining that budget dropping by 85% and the howls of anguish as the workforce was forced to find real jobs…and forfeiture would finally have to be cancelled depriving thieving local cops of cash for their bad behavior.

Bluntly, until federal legalization, state-legal cannabis is on borrowed time with the very real possibility of another president with the mindset of Hoover and his racist enforcer Harry Anslinger hanging in our future. Imagine the revenue stream in building all those new prisons for the millions of cannabis users. All the politicians holding stock in prisons, Wall St. investors and Hedge Funds, would be so happy to see that happen.

If you don’t know who Harry was, he was Pres. Hoover’s architect of the Drug War. The massive damage he continues to inflict so many decades after he died is boggling:
The drug Alcohol is the most widely used in the world and causes the most personal, family, and social damage to our species. So why is it that governments in their propaganda always refer to it as ‘alcohol AND drugs?’
Hell, at this point refined sugar has been classified as a drug after studies of rats being addicted to cocaine found they would rather eat sugar when given the choice because of the high it gives them! And yes, I would hate giving up chocolate…

I’m germinating for the garden at the moment, 6 different strains. At least it’s still sorta legal, yes?



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