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Report says legalising marijuana in California would be windfall for cannabis industry

If voters legalise marijuana in California on 8th November the cannabis industry can expect sales to increase to $6.5 billion by 2020, a new cannabis industry marketing report predicts.

Cannabis investors can expect 18.5 per cent sales growth a year in California if Proposition 64 passes, according to The State of Legal Marijuana Markets, published by New Frontier Data and ArcView Group. The 2016 report says: ‘Legalisation of cannabis is one of greatest business opportunities of our time and it’s still early enough to see huge growth.’

In 2015, medical marijuana sales in California were $2.7 billion, the study noted.

The California Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s bishops, has officially taken ‘no position’ on the ballot initiative to legalise recreational marijuana. However, the conference notes the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches the use of drugs except on strictly therapeutic grounds is a ‘grave offense,’ and the Vatican Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry in 2001 stated that the use of cannabis is ‘incompatible with Christian morality’.

Meanwhile, a just-released Colorado study of the effects of legalisation found marijuana-related traffic fatalities increased 62 per cent from 71 to 115 people from 2013 to 2015, youth use increased 20 per cent and adult use increased 60 per cent based on questions about past-month use.

Marijuana-related hospitalisations nearly doubled from 6,305 in 2011 to 11,439 in 2014, two years after the Rocky Mountain state legalised recreational use, according to the September report by Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, which tracks the impact of marijuana legalisation in Colorado.

Proposition 64 “is written for the fat cats who are going to get richer,” said Kevin Sabet, a former Obama administration drug policy adviser and co-founder with former Democratic Congressman Patrick Kennedy of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a national anti-legalisation organisation.

The ‘No on 64’ forces have received less than a quarter-million dollars in donations compared to more than $11 million for Proposition 64, according to filings with the secretary of state. Most of the funding for ‘No on 64’ has come from Sabet’s group.

Nevada, Arizona, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Florida and Maine also will vote on ballot measures to legalise marijuana on 8th November.

Four states and the District of Columbia have legalised marijuana: Colorado and Washington, in 2012, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia, in 2014. Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have legalised medical marijuana.
California was the first state to legalise medical marijuana – in 1996 – and it reduced possession of the drug to an infraction with a maximum $100 fine in 2010. An average of the results of five polls of California voters, taken from February through August, found 62.5 per cent would vote for passage, while 34.8 per cent would oppose it, according to

Nevertheless, proponents and opponents say Proposition 64 would not only legalise marijuana for adults 21 and older, it would change the playing field by imposing taxes and allowing commercial cultivation, processing, distribution, and sales of marijuana for recreational purposes under a state regulatory and licensing structure, the Bureau of Marijuana Control.

It could raise as much as $1 billion a year in tax revenues, and reduce law enforcement and incarceration costs by as much as $100 million, according to the state legislative analysis.

Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein opposes Proposition 64. Opponents include the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, California Police Chiefs Association, California District Attorneys Association as well as the California Hospital Association, and the Small Farmers Association.

The measure ‘allows marijuana growing near schools and parks because it forbids local governments from banning indoor residential growing of marijuana if the crop is limited to six plants,’ the Catholic conference’s summary of opponents’ arguments states.

In addition, black market and drug cartel activity will likely increase as organised crime has skyrocketed in Colorado and the measure ‘places no limit on the number of marijuana shops that can be placed in a single neighbourhood with poor, underprivileged neighbourhoods likely the ones to be most affected,’ the conference summary stated.

Proponents include 2018 gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who created the state blue ribbon panel whose recommendations comprise most of the initiative’s language, the California Democratic Party and the California NAACP.

Current drug policies are “a war on the poor, on folks of colour and it’s got to end,” Newsom told a National Cannabis Industry Association conference in Oakland, the Los Angeles Times reported on 21st June.

Proposition 64 would generate tax revenue, decrease law enforcement costs and provide an environment where marijuana is safe, controlled and taxed, according to the ballot arguments.

Picture: A law enforcement officer is seen in 2010 pulling marijuana plants out of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. If voters legalise marijuana in California on 8th November the cannabis industry can expect sales to increase to $6.5 billion by 2020, a new cannabis industry marketing report predicts. (CNS photo/Fresno County Sheriff’s Office via EPA).