Next month, California voters may well approve Prop 64 – California’s ballot measure to legalize recreational use of marijuana by adults over 21.
If it passes, it will regulate America’s largest marijuana state industry, create strict rules on marketing (including prohibitions on marketing to children) and allow individuals to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana.
Limited home grow (up to 6 plants) will be allowed, although individual counties can also mandate that such grows can be limited to indoors only.
However, the impact of this ballot initiative’s passage will also do far more than create a legal industry in one state. The implications both nationally and internationally are huge.
U.S. Regulation and Legalization
Beyond California, the passage of Prop 64, along with the likely legalization of a recreational market in Canada next year, will likely push the legalization of at least medical marijuana on a federal level in the United States.
Medical use of the drug has been limited to a state-by-state proposition until now. However ironic it may seem, the establishment of a recreational industry in America’s largest state will put increased pressure on Congress. The pressure will be on the winner of the White House this year, to finally pass federal reform.
This will probably result in both the rescheduling of the drug and eventually, coverage under health insurance within the next four years.
The recreational industry in the state will of course, drive recreational voters in other states, particularly after the drug is federally rescheduled.
The impending California market is also driving international reform – although most of that is medical. Impending medical reform in other countries will also take its cues from the American market and California in particular.
Regulation of medical industries is now well underway in,
This includes labeling, dosing, plant and strain availability, edibles and other products and how R&D will make its way into the commercial market.
It will also almost certainly impact grow regulations (including the use of pesticides) and indoor vs. outdoor requirements – particularly that bound for the medical market.
Research and Development
Just as Colorado’s recreational market has created tax dollars for various civic benefits (including funding schools and infrastructure), the largest impact of the recreational market here may well be the additional money poured into medical research. In fact, the regulation and taxation of the California market could well act as the largest source of funding for cannabis research in the world. At least, until marijuana is rescheduled on a federal level. This alone will impact the medical market both domestically and globally.
The most important study in the United States right now is the impact of marijuana on PTSD suffered by vets – has been funded by pot taxes out of Colorado. We covered this topic earlier in the year where we discussed ‘How Marijuana Can Treat PTSD Symptoms (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)‘ and took a look at how the government was funding the research.
Cannabis requires a huge amount of both energy and water – both resources are in short supply in the state. The regulation of the market could well set new standards for water and energy use. This will impact the efficiency of growing the plant and could also impact how many other plants and agriculture are grown as well as pot production specifically. California’s market, in fact, may grow to rival Israel, which currently leads the world on not only medical research, but innovative grow technologies that minimize both water and energy in the production of the plant.
One of the issues that actually has many current growers, patients and legalization advocates worried is that the California recreational market promises to further corporatize the industry. The Cannabis industry has already radically changed and professionalized in just a few years and with more big men at the helm is may mean bad news for the current people in the industry.
While the prop has many positives, there are still plenty who fear that the California market may change the fundamental tenor of the industry from one where compassionate care is subsumed by profit.
What Happens If It Fails?
Pro-reform forces right now hold the slight edge over those who oppose the measure. It is widely expected that the measure will pass. If Prop 64 passes, it will undoubtedly have a major impact on just about every level of the legal marijuana market (both medical and recreational). What is less clear is what will happen if it fails.
Failure will not stop the forward march of reform, although it will undoubtedly impact the pace of legalization in both California and elsewhere on the recreational front. That said, the medical efficacy of marijuana is well established globally right now, and even if recreational reform fails here, it is highly unlikely that anyone will allow the flourishing medical market to exist as it is. It could be that if recreational reform fails here, the impact on California’s medical market will just further place pressure at the federal level in the U.S. and elsewhere to both push and refine if not regulate the medical market universally.