A Snapshot Of America’s Medical Marijuana Markets: California

California is rightfully regarded as one of the trailblazers in American cannabis legalization. Like most to forge an ambitious path, the effort often leaves examples of what to follow and what to avoid.

The 90s And Cannabis

Medical cannabis legalization first came to America through California in 1996. Adult use laws were legalized 20 years later, with sales beginning on New Year’s Day 2018.

Through the first year of adult-use sales, the state saw $2.5 billion in recreational purchases, while medical generated $400,000, according to BDS Analytics data.

By 2024, the cannabis data firm forecast the state medical market will reach $22 million in sales, compared to adult use’s $7.2 billion.

Despite California’s notoriety in the industry, its hopeful growth prospects and staggering sales figures, the state continues to underperform its own expectations.

In response, Gov. Gavin Newsom lowered expectations for cannabis excise taxes from $514 million to $359 million in 2020.

Concerns are lingering in a market where the state struggles to convert the longstanding illicit market into legal operators.

Nat Pennington, CEO of Humboldt Seed Co., moved to California in 1995 and officially entered the medical market there in 2001.

Earlier iterations of the proposed laws gave the feeling that the market would frown upon greed and market domination, he said.

Yet the rules that led to adult use could have done more to help small businesses, the CEO said.

“Main street cannabis has had some serious, let’s just say, industry growing pains.”

Though many segments of the marketplace may suffer, the CEO said seed providers like Humboldt Seed Co. have been able to weather the storm by providing companies with an item essential for cultivation.

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