What the heck is happening in California? I find myself asking that question on a regular basis. Its future seems to get gloomier all the time, what with the series of raids, court rulings and dispensary bans as of late.
And last week was no exception.
A judge ruled that the U.S. government can continue its crackdown on MMJ in California because cannabis is still illegal under federal laws.The ruling dashes the hopes of dispensaries, patients and other pot professionals who were hoping to prevent the government from shutting down medical cannabis businesses.
Theoretically, the feds could more or less dissolve the entire MMJ industry in California, though at this point they seem to be trying to force a significant contraction rather than destroy the sector completely.
In San Diego, officials and industry insiders estimate that 139 to 162 dispensaries have closed since October due to federal pressure. In Los Angeles, the number of dispensaries in existence has fallen by 45 since 2009 – which is actually a modest decline given the city’s stated goal of reducing pot shops by a much wider margin.
It’s difficult to tell where this is all going, but one thing is sure: California’s medical pot landscape will look drasticallydifferent at this time next year.
Last week also brought some encouraging news for the industry. Two lawmakers in Wisconsin are taking a stab at getting medical cannabis legislation passed, while New Jersey appears close to launching its MMJ program (finally!). A new study found that traffic deaths actually decline in states with medical pot laws, which should help improve the public’s opinion of MMJ. And several governors urged the Obama administration to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule 2 drug, which would give the medical cannabis industry a shot in the arm.
All in all, last week was another mixed bag for the industry. Fortunately, there were some positive developments to counter the chaos in California.
Here are some of our other top stories from last week:
Chris Walsh, Editor