When it comes to cannabis in the United States, California is a pioneer. California was the first state to legalize cannabis for medical use (1996), and while it wasn’t the first to legalize cannabis for adult use, it is still the largest legal cannabis market in the country.

California voters overwhelmingly approved a cannabis legalization initiative in 2016. Nearly 3 years later, support has increased. That’s per poll results from a recent poll conducted by UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies on behalf of the Los Angeles Times. Below are a couple of excerpts from the poll’s results:

According to the poll, 68% of Californians say legalization has been a good thing for the state, an increase in support since 2016, when 57% of voters approved Proposition 64, which legalized growing, selling and possessing cannabis for recreational use…

..the poll found that 63% of California voters favored their cities giving permits to cannabis stores, with support in all areas of the state, including 69% in Los Angeles County. The lowest support for pot shops was in the Inland Empire, which includes Riverside and San Bernardino counties, at 54%.

The implementation of a regulated adult-use cannabis industry in California has been tough. That should not come as a shock to anyone considering how large California’s population is, and how long the state had a medical cannabis industry that operated within a patchwork of often-conflicting public policies and regulations.

Local cannabis industry bans have not helped matters at all. Local communities should be embracing the cannabis industry, not continuing to prohibit it. Prohibition never works, including at a local level. Consumers should be able to make legal purchases at regulated cannabis stores, otherwise, they often turn to an unregulated market which is undesirable for a number of reasons.

Cannabis dispensaries have been associated with lower crime rates and increased property values, and that benefits all community members, not just cannabis consumers and cannabis entrepreneurs. Why prohibit them?

California’s cannabis industry is far from having reached its full potential, however, it’s encouraging to see that support for legalization has increased since legalization was passed in 2016. Cannabis opponents claimed that California voters would regret supporting legalization. That is clearly not the case.

Hopefully local lawmakers in areas that have cannabis industry bans listen to their voters and finally allow the industry to operate in their jurisdictions, and in the process, create local jobs, boost local economies, generate local government revenue, and provide other benefits.

We will be discussing local California cannabis laws and regulations at our upcoming International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco on February 6-7, 2020. Come join the conversation!