Weekly Wrapup: Los Angeles, San Diego Highlight Volatility of Medical Cannabis Industry

The medical marijuana industry is not for the faint of heart. Each day brings new challenges, setbacks and surprises (not to mention opportunities)  –  making it both exciting and frustrating for business owners.

Industry veterans know this well, and newbies learn it very quickly, sometimes the hard way.

To get an idea of how unpredictable the medical marijuana industry can be, look to California – and more specifically Los Angeles and San Diego.

These two cities have seen dramatic shifts in the medical cannabis business environment as of late, and more changes are on the horizon.

As Medical Marijuana Business Daily wrote about last week, the cannabis industry in Los Angeles could undergo a significant shift in May, when residents will vote on several proposals calling for new regulations on medical marijuana operations. Two of the initiatives would force most of the city’s estimated 700-900 dispensaries to close, allowing only about 125 that opened before a 2007 moratorium to remain in business. The other proposal would let all existing dispensaries stay open, provided they meet new regulations. It’s just another turn in a long roller-coaster ride for local MMJ dispensaries (which the city council actually banned last year before reversing course).

Also last week, we wrote about the tenuous situation for San Diego’s medical cannabis industry, which was on its last legs until the city’s new mayor ordered local officials to stop prosecuting dispensaries. Some dispensary owners who were forced to shut down during a recent crackdown started making plans to open back up immediately. But the city council voted to continue the prosecutions while the mayor and his team draft new regulations. That leaves the industry in a holding pattern at least until March, when the mayor plans to introduce his ordinance.

Uncertainty is the bane of the business community. Unfortunately, it’s a big part of the medical marijuana industry – and it likely will be for years to come. As we’ve seen in Los Angeles and San Diego, business owners must be flexible and ready to adapt to changing conditions at a moment’s notice. And they have to prepare for the worst, as all the money and time you’ve invested in your business can go up in smoke quickly.

On the bright side, however, these cities also show that even when all hope is lost, the situation can change for the better literally overnight. At one point last year, all dispensaries in Los Angeles were preparing to shut down and the entire MMJ San Diego was pretty much dead in the water. Today, however, the future looks much more promising. Just as importantly, Los Angeles and San Diego are both poised to introduce new regulations that could take away some of the uncertainty and volatility going forward. While that will cause some near-term chaos, it will hopefully lay the groundwork for stability in the future.

Other stories in MMJ Business Daily last week:

5 Promising Ancillary Cannabis Business Opportunities

Despite Flurry of Bills, Only Handful of States Could Pass Marijuana Legislation

Amy Poinsett: Future is Bright for Marijuana Industry