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California has always been a leader; people across the world often look to the west coast as a vision for the future, a catalyst for change, progression, and acceptance. At the forefront of progressivism, California takes the lead in the U.S. in areas of climate protection, civil liberties, and electing more diverse officials into office. The decriminalization of marijuana is now included on that list of progressive policy change.

On January 1st, California was positioned as a new leader in defining and legitimizing legal weed culture in the United States. If California does things right, it could really use this new platform to influence change throughout the country and become established as a global leader in the recreational marijuana industry. Here are some ways that California is positioned to disrupt the industry in 2018.

Opportunity for Better Laws & Regulations

2018 is going to be a historic year for recreational marijuana, but there’s still much work left to do in terms of policy. In fact, the first six months might be more of a transition period given the size of the market and that most cities and counties are still scrambling to establish regulations. Most of the state didn’t go live with recreational sales on January 1st. Los Angeles, for example, only began to accept applications for dispensaries on January 3rd and in effect, dispensaries themselves will not receive licenses for weeks. Availability will depend upon how a local government has treated marijuana for the past decade or more, so if your hometown never saw the sale of medical marijuana, you’re not likely to see recreational marijuana soon.

Although lawmakers have been slow moving on creating recreational regulations, perhaps that means there is still time for cannabis business owners to get involved. If ever you find an issue with a regulation your local lawmaker wants to pass, pick up the phone and call their office or attend a council meeting. It is important to lend your voice as a business owner, to tell lawmakers that you support regulation of the industry and what you feel would make it better. As a cannabis business owner, it is important to remain engaged and it will be only through collaborative effort that a better cannabis industry will grow. Click here to view who your local lawmakers are.

Global Brands

Expect to see a rise of companies looking to service the marijuana industry, especially in the tech sector, where people are reimagining how business is done. In today’s retail market, consumers expect convenience, such as online shopping and on-demand delivery. With a growing customer base, businesses need customer relationship management systems and marketing automation platforms to manage books, promotions, or loyalty programs.

Keep an eye out for ancillary businesses targeting the industry by developing new marketing and sales tools, advanced home grow systems, research & data platforms, apps and more. With startup hubs in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, and San Diego, there’s a lot of possibility for growth in the industry with ample opportunity to become the next “Uber” for weed. Pay attention to the fast-growing cannabis economy and consider taking stock. With a rising customer base and consistent sales growth, marijuana stocks will certainly have investors seeing green. A few California-based companies to check out include Botana (LA), a data analytics platform helping cannabis growers become more efficient and profitable; EventHi (San Diego), an event management ticketing platform for cannabis events; and Loto Labs (San Francisco), who has built the first Smart Vape powered by Induction called the Loto Lux.

Shifting Attitudes & Growing Support

It is clear there has been a shift in the way the American public views marijuana, and according to a Gallup poll released in October 2017, nearly two-thirds of American adults believe marijuana use should be legal. Nevertheless, recreational cannabis remains federally illegal, making some aspects of normal business fairly challenging with disadvantageous tax laws and little to no access to basic banking services. As the public’s support continues to grow, perhaps mounting pressure will build on Congress to ultimately change its Class I schedule classification of it.

Other numbers that show how recreational legalization has benefitted society comes from Colorado. More than three years after Colorado legalized marijuana, a recent federal survey has found that teens are now actually smoking less, taking the centennial state below the national average. In fact, the number of 18-to-25-year-olds using alcohol on a monthly basis fell by four percentage points between 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. This is an age group with the highest proclivity to use cannabis, thus proposing a number of young adults are choosing to smoke marijuana instead of drinking now that the option is available to them.

Studies like this showcase the problem with theories which argue making marijuana use legal for adults will result in more young adult use. All in all, it suggests that tighter regulations actually help keep cannabis away from kids. This study and more adds to a growing list of evidence showing that marijuana availability can reduce alcohol consumption, and be considering what public health experts know about the harmfulness of marijuana compared to booze, this should be considered a big public health win.

News like this coming from Colorado and Washington is overwhelmingly positive and serves as an indicator that the economy and society shall move in a forward direction post-legalization for California. The world abroad will be looking closely at what’s happening in the states to learn lessons that can be applied to their own situations. In short, California is positioned to help the world improve by leading by example.

Closing Thoughts

On that note, Jeff Sessions jolted those in the legal marijuana industry last week by announcing his ban of the Cole Memo (you can read it here). His disdain for marijuana use is well-known, but what will happen next is foggy, to say the least. It will also depend on the actions of other federal lawmakers. If this isn’t as good a time as any to become politically involved – it’s now. The country is overwhelmingly in support of legal marijuana. It is time for members of Congress to work to change the laws on the books. Click here to view who your local lawmakers are, and we encourage you to email or call to say that you oppose Sessions’ rescission of the Cole Memo.

To stay updated on the latest tech, entrepreneurs and innovative companies in the cannabis industry, click here.