California Legal Cannabis Sales Exploded. And California is Cashing In

On Fumes of Stimulus and to Soothe the Frustration.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Cannabis tax revenues in Q3 collected by the State of California soared by a record 80% year-over-year, and by a record of $136 million year-over-year, to a $307 million, the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration reported Monday afternoon. This does not include tax revenues collected by cities and counties. All three categories surged: Excise Tax (+90%), Cultivation Tax (+80%), and Sales Tax (+66%).

This brought California’s cannabis taxes during the first nine months of 2020 to $778 million, and on track to exceed $1 billion for the whole year, a sorely needed injection of moolah during these trying times:

Cannabis has always been a popular product and business in California in a huge black market that persists today, but what we’re looking at is the shift of black-market weed to regulated and taxed legal weed, much of it locally grown, and sold at retailers that are paying rent, unlike other retailers that have shut down or stopped paying rent.

California cannabis tax revenues had been surging by around $60 million every quarter compared to the same quarter a year earlier, since the beginning of legalization in January 2018. This rate of growth was fairly stable through the fourth quarter 2019.

Then in February 2020, Covid was beginning to run around in California, and people began to react. On February 26, San Francisco declared a state of emergency. By that time, traffic had already died down. On March 17, the five most populous counties of the Bay Area began the lockdown. And people, to soothe their pains and anxieties…

In Q1, cannabis tax revenues surged by $81 million year-over-year to $211 million. In Q2, the stimulus money and extra unemployment benefits of $600-a-week kicked in, and cannabis tax revenues surged by $103 million to $260 million. And in Q3, the stock market gains were ladled on top of it, and the state started sending out the additional $300-a-week in unemployment benefits in $900-lumpsum payments, and cannabis tax revenues exploded by $136 million to $307 million.

This chart shows the year-over-year increases in millions of dollars for each quarter. Note how through 2019, the year-over-year increases were roughly stable at around $60 million, and then they surged:

With the cannabis sales tax rate of 7.25% (state 6% and mandatory local 1.25%), and $106 million in sales taxes reported, we can figure that $1.46 billion in weed was retailed by regulated retailers in the quarter. For the year 2020, legal weed retail sales will likely exceed $5 billion, and at this rate, exceed $6 billion in 2021. This is starting to add up.

The regulations that followed California Proposition 64, approved by voters in November 2016, legalized the production, distribution, sale, and use of recreational cannabis by adults as of January 2018. The regulations are complex. Three regulatory offices are in charge: The California Bureau of Cannabis Control; the California Department of Food and Agriculture; and the California Department of Public Health. And things are not always clear-cut and have led to legal entanglements, one of which a judge just ruled on: Advertising cannabis products and businesses on highway billboards.

Proposition 64 included a ban on highway billboards that advertise cannabis products and businesses. The California Bureau of Cannabis Control had interpreted the language to mean that there could be no cannabis billboard within 15 miles of the California border, but were OK elsewhere. Soon, cannabis billboards started popping up everywhere, including on along 101 Freeway, near San Louis Obispo, where a construction contractor with two kids that frequently used the freeway decided enough was enough and sued.

On Friday, a San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge said in a ruling that the Bureau of Cannabis Control had improperly allowed these cannabis billboards along California highways and that the bureau and its director “exceeded their authority in promulgating the advertisement placement regulation.”

The ruling prohibits billboards along 4,315 miles of interstate highways and along state highways that cross state borders, according to one of the attorneys for the plaintiff, cited by the Los Angeles Times (state law allows cannabis ads on city streets, subject to local ordinances, but not within 1,000 feet of daycare centers, K-12 schools, or playgrounds). The bureau said it was “still reviewing the ruling” and hadn’t decided if would appeal. No one said it would be smooth sailing to bring the huge weed business out of the black market and integrate it into legal agriculture and commerce. But it seems to have been worth the effort.

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  110 comments for “California Legal Cannabis Sales Exploded. And California is Cashing In

  1. Dano says:

    “Morals” fall in government when there’s tax money to gain.

    Give it another decade and we’ll see the push to legalize the ladies of the night as well.

    Not that I’m against any of it, but money always talks first & foremost.

    • Sam says:

      Taking a cue from Canuck’s (not the hockey team) duality of Bill C 36.

      “Under the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA), selling sex is legal in Canada. However, advertising sexual services, paying for those services, and living off the material gains from selling sex, are illegal.”

      Limitations of monitorization in prostitution law (C 36) found unconstitutional, Ontario judge ruled in Feb ’20.

      “Money doesn’t talk, it swears.” – Bob Dylan

    • Cas127 says:


      “Give it another decade and we’ll see the push to legalize the ladies of the night as well.”

      How do you know that the G doesn’t fund free internet porn to keep society “stable”?

      Hasn’t anyone ever wondered how continued content creation continues when the ocean of free material should have destroyed the paid mkt?

      • fajensen says:

        I remember that there was a time when porn movies had a story in there, however feeble it was, and even valiant attempts at acting, to lighten the mood :).

        The paid market still does that.

    • Cas127 says:

      The G has rather miserably failed in maintaining a framework for the continued improvement in the material well being of Americans.

      But they can help keep you too stoned to notice.

      Pot for every chicken.

    • OutWest says:

      Dano –

      Your views sound a bit authoritarian to me.

      Two-thirds of Americans believe marijuana should be legalized and they willingly vote to tax themselves for the privilege of having safe access to it.

      We the taxpayers pay about 51 billion annually to fund the war on drugs. Locking up pot smokers as a gov policy is moral?

      Taxing and regulating marijuana consumption appears to be the sensible path forward and I can say one thing for sure, staff in those pot shops are always super happy people!!

      • Dano says:

        Authoritarian? You need to re-read what I wrote hood sir.

        I’m a libertarian at heart, so I have no problem with either. I’m simply pointing out the sheer hypocrisy of government finally embracing things that should never been illegal to begin with, but making sure they can profit off that change in the law.

        If there weren’t tax money in it I doubt you’d have seen it legalized—at all.

        However, CA has those fat public retiree pensions they have to fund, so I fully expect more formerly illegal actions to become legalized if they can find ways to tax them.

        • Cas127 says:


          On a marginally related note, I’m almost positive the public pension shortfalls will overwhelm (by a lot) any new niche taxes.

          To my mind, the best fix for that disaster in the offing, is to,

          1) Force an internal redistribution from the highest paid gvt retirees, to the lowest until the fund balances.

          The highest comp’ed political class workers were nearest the corrupt bargaining that created this disaster.

          Plus, they eternally invoked redistribution so long as it flowed towards them. Now it is their turn.

          2) To the extent the public pensions refuse to reform themselves internally (very likely…if they were ethical, none of this would of happened in the first place) then the same result can be obtained via new tax law.

          Prior legislative action cannot bind subsequent legislative action.

          When things get awful/absurd enough in CA and NY, the political winds will shift enough for this to happen.

          I only mention it because this fix is simple and the political class likes to shriek and rend more complicated fixes.

        • OutWest says:

          Dano –

          Respectfully, you are confusing and conflating the issue.

          Voters have compelled the state of CA via proposition to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana. It’s pretty simple really. The will of the residents/taxpayers of CA, not the gov as you put it, has been implemented.

    • nodecentrepublicansleft says:

      Morals? Really? This from the country that invaded Iraq when: 1) they had nothing to do with 9/11; 2) They had no WMDs; 3) It’s cost 5K dead US soldiers, 1M dead civilians, and maybe $6T when it’s all said and done?

      Where were the 9/11 hi-jackers from? 14/19 from Saudi Arabia.

      This is the same country that can’t get the rape kits processed. Mothers, Wives, Daughters, Sisters, and friends get raped and the police don’t process the evidence. Rapists have something like a 5% change of getting caught.

      I could go on but it’s not necessary. Morals isn’t the issue. It’s not immoral to smoke pot. Remember how the prohibition of alcohol worked out? It’s the same thing.

      • Cas127 says:


        But alcohol fuels plenty of abuse, crimes, and accidents by itself.

        These changes don’t come without their own new costs.

        The drug laws were mostly put in place initially because such costs were recognized and the innocent people who suffered wanted the dopers to examine and pay the price for their own actions.

        Perhaps the balance of costs and benefits weigh in favor of legalization at this time.

        Just don’t pretend there aren’t costs.

        • Dave says:

          My final paper for graduating with my BSN in nursing was about drug use/abuse. I spent quite a few hours researching peer reviewed scientific data.

          A couple of interesting tidbits that have stuck with me…….

          You can combine all the illegal drugs bought and sold in the USA and tally the damage(treatment, imprisonment, death, property damage, theft etc etc) it does to society (in dollars). Alcohols damage to society dwarfs all other illegal drugs combined by about 4 to 1( some of this may be due to it being legal and easier to obtain)

          The % of people who become addicted to drugs is roughly equal in societies with much more liberal drug policies as compared to societies who wage wars on drugs

        • Lee says:

          “The % of people who become addicted to drugs is roughly equal in societies with much more liberal drug policies as compared to societies who wage wars on drugs.”

          I’ll give your premise a big fat “F” as in failure.

          As proof: Japan and South Korea.

      • Lee says:

        “This is the same country that can’t get the rape kits processed.”

        Better talk to your local and state politicians about that. The Federal government has very little to do with it. State based crime rquires state based assets and funding.

        While you are at it better find out why the rate of case closure for violent crime and murder is so low in many DEMOCRAT controlled states and cities as well. Nothing to do with the federal government or ‘the country’ as a whole.

      • MCH says:

        The country really should follow Oregon’s lead on this. Crack, cocaine, legalize it all. Then take over Columbia, and start using that as a legal export.

        After all, the logic goes, better to regulate this substance, and make a buck out of this, right?

        As for the addicts, it was their choice, may as well make some money out of it. If I want to be cold blooded about this.

        • p coyle says:

          your ‘cold blooded’ is a different class of person’s ‘pragmatism,’ or some other fancified euphemism.

    • JK says:

      I think Gov should push it all: marijuana, heroin, hash, LSD, mushrooms, polygamy, etc. People want freedom with no lines in the sand. Also, get rid of the borders too since we’re into “freedom.”

      I have mixed feelings on this “weed” thing. The reason being as a teenager I smoked enough of this and doing other drugs to sedate an elephant herd. Fortunately, I was able to pull myself together by the time I got out of high school, get a degree, and learn that there are a lot of joys other than sitting stoned listening to music doing nothing with my life i.e. learning, exercise, travel, hobbies, etc. I saw a number of people destroy their lives and dreams doing drugs and alcohol in excess. I have friends that continue with the weed today and notice some changes in them. I don’t believe in advertising this on bill boards, and dangers of excess comsumption should be advertised.

      I know they are not legalizing it in China and I know which country is rising and which other country is dumping. Good luck with your weed.

      • Implicit says:

        Everybody handles drug, alcohol, food, sex etc… differently.
        A counter view might be that people who imbibe with THC products handle it better than many alcohol drinkers seem to be able to do; at least according to arrest records.
        Alcohol often changes peoples’ behavior for the worst, way more statistically than THC.
        Some people that do not ingest any substances for relaxation and escapism suffer from severe anxiety, and control issues that changes them for the worse too.
        They probably should legalize drugs. It would save a lot more money than the taxes that pot brings in. Ultimately it would create a healthier society.

        • Anthony says:

          Implicit ……..Really and I wonder how many dope smoker are teetotalers and also don’t mix tobacco with their weed…. Well, none of them that I know…… They don’t sound healthy to me….

        • Implicit says:

          I know a lot of people who don’t drink but smoke pot, and others that try and drink less by smoking pot. Also know some that only smoke pot when their hammered. What you can take from this Anthony is that I know ma lot of people LOL

    • coalman says:

      not just money, legalization helps prevent avenues to police corruption. Here in Oz,prostitution has been legal for years and ended the ability of crooked cops shaking down brothel owners for their weekly “cut”.

      • Lee says:

        Ah, police in OZ……………..

        Been keeping up to date with all the bs going on about Victoria Police?

        Yeah, you know the ‘incident’ where they were using the criminals’ lawyer as a confidential informant (CI) for years for information that help get convictions and now are going to have hundreds of cases probably thrown out?

        (When I worked for them and before the Purana Task Force was set up we all knew that there was a snitch somewhere giving us information as it was too specific and resulted a number of high profile convictions. Us lower end mushrooms didn’t know who the CI was though……….)

        Or the most recent one because of an “IT GLITCH” they secretly recorded conversations between lawyers and their clients?

        Or how years ago somebody raided the drug squad offices and walked off with drugs and information?

        Yeah, in order to do that they had to walk into the building, get past the officers at the front, swipe their cards at the gate, get into the drug squad offices via double secure doors and THEN get into the safe storage areas…………..funny how nobody was ever caught for that……………….

        VICPOL is one of the most corrupt police entities in the world of ‘law enforecement’.

      • ET says:

        Here in the “Emerald Triangle”, epicenter of the weed black market, the cops are heavily rumored to sell the “evidence” in pot shops down in S.F.. Some of them also definitely grow it themselves.

        Before legalization, it was one of the few remaining well paying “cottage” industries in the US. A family could support themselves and their properties with a small grow. Many families had their own successful very small businesses on the black market. People estimate that pot was 80% of what was driving the economy in Humboldt county, for instance.

        It did raised property values out of wack when growing became popular. Also raised violent crime levels to some degree.

        Now, many of the grows in the area are huge and less money is distributed throughout the communities than before. Wages are less. More are now owned by people who live outside of the area and some seem to be backed by very big money. Both legal and black market grows now employ groups of illegal trimmers for mostly seasonal work from Spain, France, Chile, Argentina etc. They are still flying in- Covid or not. Because of the currency exchange and for other reasons these workers can be hired for far less money than the local workers. Local workers cannot pay rent with those wages. Many of the local workers are hurting. Community centers, public radio, stores and schools are suffering- even before Covid.

        It’s probably effecting part of the economy of the state of California as a whole. The Triangle has historically had the greatest amount of pot produced, but not the only source by a long shot. It’s a big part of the state’s economy. There have been a lot of good paying jobs lost. And I don’t think consumers are having that much of a price break.

    • Nic says:

      government isn’t in the business of morals, often not even ethics. And the trend may be moving faster than you think. A few states are moving to legalize additional drugs such as hallucinogenics (cannabis can fall into this category as well). And the decision to legalize is often expedient (i.e., MONEY).
      This trend has been going on for decades now. Ever notice how tax money is allocated for certain purposes, and then when it comes time to spend it for that purpose, there is often not enough money? Our taxes pay for the fire departments, right? In many municipalities, you will get a hefty bill for a fire department paramedic ride (the ride your taxes supposed provided for).
      Bottom line is I don’t see ethics in most fields anymore, including my own (medical). I surely don’t see a lot of morals.
      But I do appreciate that it matters to you.

    • Jenni Gibson says:

      Prostitution is legal here in NZ and it works, Less crime and our “Ladies” are protected.

    • M says:

      I have not tried it since I finished university. However, I predict that this industry has a golden future: in the coming months, many wise Americans will want to stay high or drunk.

      The US congress is not likely to pass any bailouts, the Thanksgiving reunions are likely to cause exponential, growth of virus clusters, and the enemy of preventing banks’ from gambling, Yellen, will be in charge of the US economy to funnel more trillions in bailouts to the banksters. See Wall Street on Parade’s “Fed Chair Yellen Repeats “Alternative Facts” from New York Times on Financial Crash” and “Wall Street Banks Are Dangerously Evading U.S. Derivatives Rules by Making Trades at Foreign Subsidiaries.” See also “Janet Yellen Urged Glass-Steagall Repeal And Social Security Cuts, Supported NAFTA” on the Huffington post.

      She opposed even the current administration’s flirtation with re-enacting that crucial Glass-Steagall Act. See The Daily Reckoning. “Yellen’s Dangerous Glass-Steagall Repression.” I guess that the banksters know that their banks are legally insolvent and wanted one of their strongest supporters in charge at the US Treasury to make sure that their gravy train did not get even slowed down and more trillions of dollars in bailouts are handed to them. (By the way, the $892 BILLION in MBS purchases by the “Federal” Reserve bankster cartel, out of a total $2 TRILLION in purchases by that “Fed” means that the banks most truly be in desperate shape. Read about the level of funds to cover the banking losses in the FDIC, if you want to have a sleepless night.)

      • M says:

        By the way, I was replying to the comment about weed not prostitution. Most wise Americans will want to either get high on weed or drunk is what I meant, because the new head of Treasury and the “Federal” bankster Reserve are soon going to transfer what remains of Americans’ wealth to the banksters to bail them out.

        The “Fed” apparently could not bail them out by purchasing even $2 TRILLION of their rapidly, foresee-ably sinking MBS, as of the present time. Try not to think about the banks’ TRILLIONS in derivatives exposure, which US taxpayers soon will be forced to pay. Yellen is the banks’ beloved but is mascarading as a “reformer.”

  2. Lou Mannheim says:

    What is the correlation between stimulus payments and weed sales? I would think the pandemic and greater acceptance are doing the heavy lifting.

    • MonkeyBusiness says:

      You got to have money to pay for things. The pandemic has caused job losses and yet weed sales are way up.

  3. Lisa_Hooker says:

    I note that broadcast TV has commenced advertising for long-banned hard alcohol. Is it permissible to run TV ads for the Original Acapulco Gold? Accept no substitutes.

    On another note has anyone compared this increase with the growth rate of alcohol sales after the repeal of Prohibition?

  4. MonkeyBusiness says:

    Wait till Amazon gets into it. Amazon Bliss I call it.

  5. 2banana says:

    Some interesting facts on your conclusion but it would be tough to compile an overall net effect.

    Beer, cigarettes and alcohol are taxed at much higher rates than legal marijuana. How long will that last?

    There are draconian and well enforced penalties for illegal beer, cigarettes and alcohol production and sales. Without them – the high taxes could not be collected.

    There are conflicting studies that show legal marijuana cannibalizing beer, cigarettes and alcohol sales. It is, after all, all about the tax revenue.

    Studies from Colorado show while arrests for possession are way down, traffic fatalities, health emergencies and homelessness tied to the legalization are way up.

    “But it seems to have been worth the effort.”

    • Wolf Richter says:

      In terms of cannibalization of beer v. cannabis — and I’ve seen some of those studies too — I think the only way that would work is for someone who really doesn’t like the flavor of beer, and is drinking beer only to get the buzz. Someone like me who loves the flavor of a good beer (and drinks in smallish quantities to avoid the buzz) will never switch to weed. It would just be illogical. I’m not looking for a buzz. I’m looking for a simple pleasure.

    • Lance Manly says:

      CA has a 15% excise tax for cannabis vs .20 per gallon for beer.

      “Cannabis Excise Tax
      Effective January 1, 2018, a 15-percent excise tax is imposed upon retail purchasers of all cannabis and cannabis products, including medicinal cannabis, and distributors are required to calculate and collect the amount of excise tax due on the cannabis or cannabis products they supply to you. The 15-percent excise tax is calculated based on the average market price of cannabis or cannabis products sold in a retail sale. Please refer to the heading, Average Market Price, below for more information. As a retailer, you are required to pay the cannabis excise tax to your distributor and collect the cannabis excise tax from your customers. No cannabis and/or cannabis products may be sold unless the cannabis excise tax is paid by the purchasers (consumers) at the time of sale.”

      • Implicit says:

        Fortunately it is legal to make your own beer and grow your own pot. Saving coin is making coin :>{)

      • 2banana says:

        Well, keep going.

        California Liquor Tax – $3.30 / gallon – Plus Federal Excise taxes (none on marijuana yet).

        California tobacco taxes are at about 30% of wholesale price plus federal taxes compared to 15% of retail price for marijuana (no federal taxes).

        You really think marijuana taxes are going to remain well below alcohol and cigarette taxes?

        Remember – this is all about revenue to the state.

        Especially if there is cannibalization of the market?

        • Lee says:

          Talking about the price of booze and tax – mainly tax…………

          It is cheaper to buy a 750ml bottle of Johnnie Walker from a Japanese supermarket than from a bottle shop in Australia.

          Booze & beer in Oz is expensive.

          Death sticks too.

          And now you can only bring in two packs of smokes tax free. Don’t know what the actual price is now in Oz, but every year the tax is adjusted twice a year. It has to be quite high now.

  6. Chillbro says:

    The next natural step is medicinal cocaine! Are you shy? Do you have trouble communicating in groups of people? Would you like to lose a few pounds? Do have an important assignment that was due yesterday? There is a solution for you!

    • fajensen says:

      I’d prefer psychedelics. Cocaine is fun and all, but it doesn’t really provide anything new and exciting; as you said: It’s all about boosting performance, which I don’t need.

    • Clete says:

      Just let Coca-Cola go back to the original formula!

    • The Count says:

      Possession of cocaine is already legal in Oregon. They just don’t sell it at the pot shops yet.

      • elysianfield says:

        “Possession of cocaine is already legal in Oregon.”

        Yes, legal. But why the half-measures? If all drugs were subsidized by the state, prices so low that anyone could pick up bottles on the roadside to account for their habit, what would happen? No Cartels, no gang financing, 50% reduction in property crimes. Prisons would be uncrowded. Money saved could finance real abstinence programs, rehabilitation programs, mental health programs.

        Certainly, many people would OD (users gonna use), but the initial widespread carnage could be an object lesson to the youth.

        I’d go one step further and offer all drugs in vending machines…25 cents a hit, with a free spike included…this would deter smuggling out of the state, with only quarters accepted…video of each vending machine would quickly identify potential smugglers. How would this impact the spread of blood-borne diseases with re-used needles? HIV, Hepatitis.

        The cost of subsidization to the state would be in the millions…the savings in billions. Of course, this only would work if the state truly wanted to solve it’s social issues….

        • Lou Mannheim says:

          “Prisons would be uncrowded”

          Corrections Corporation of America (recently rebranded as CoreCivic) would like a word.

    • nick kelly says:

      We have Freud’s letters etc. where he raves about cocaine, including one where he tells his intended bride that his practice is doing so well they will be able to move in together. Six months later he writes: ‘I have made a great mistake.’
      One of his clients being treated for depression had spent all his money on blow. And his ‘lows’ were getting really low.

    • coalman says:

      Lee, pack of cigarrettes in victoria, for 50……..$53.95.

  7. Martha Careful says:

    Marijuana is legal for all adults in 11 states, and for medical purposes in 34. Five more states just voted to legalize it.

    If citizens are supportive of paying a tax, which helps society, where’s the downside?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      “…where’s the downside?”

      I think lots of smart people have been broadly asking this very question and not come up with a real answer — especially since the black market has made it available everywhere anyway. That’s why legalization has now become a steamroller. This should have happened long ago.

      • MCH says:

        Buy MJ and Marajuna stocks?

        Joe is likely to push for full legalization anyway, so time to go all in.

        Just need to figure out a way to pry open the world’s largest market, that’s all. Come on, if they need iPhones, they have to have recreational drugs.

        What harm could opium or their derivatives possibly cause.

    • 2banana says:


      As in Colorado since legalization, more deaths from driving under the influence, more health care issues and more homelessness.

      Does it outweigh the less incarcerated and higher tax revenue rates? Probably not.

      Will California become much more draconian to those that avoid paying the ever increasing marijuana taxes? Probably so.

      Overall, as in Colorado, the net will be a small increase (by percentage) to the state budget. However, it is no magic solution to the massive budget deficits.

      As in Washington State, coming next is likely the legalization of harder drugs.

      Where do you want to draw the line?

      Walmart selling meth which is nearly 100% addictive from the first hit?

      • nick kelly says:

        How do you know the increase in homelessness is not due to the financialization of real estate?
        Here on Van Isle rents for a one bed apt have increased by anywhere from 200 to 400 a month since legalization of pot. That buys a lot of pot, which has decreased in price.

      • Dave says:

        Well, the pandemic may have played a part increasing health care issues (mental health and physical health are 2 sides of same coin).

        People may also be drinking much more alcohol and driving as well…. booze sales are up, and people use it in times of duress…. and our current world is overflowing with duress

    • fajensen says:

      The downside is that the developing teenage brains can’t handle too much ‘medication’.

      I think that the downsides of the ‘unregulated market’ are far worse, f.ex.:

      We never know what we buy, Gang-bangers are able to earn untaxed millions, thus spawning more criminality, We are prosecuting and jailing far too many people, Police have been given far too much authority.

  8. MCH says:

    The advantage here is that the money isn’t exported to Asia. In fact, the US should consider how to go about making cannabis a legal export to China to help with the trade deficit. ?

    Anyone with a sense of history would understand how inflammatory that last comment was. ?

    • Lee says:

      But just think how much the drug cartels in Mexico have lost as a result of this move in the USA.

      Maybe once the entire US goes legal the police (at least those that remain where they haven’t been defunded) can go to work on solving actual violent crime……………….

      But then again, you need a certain level of intelligence to do that.

  9. Tom20 says:

    It prevents you from reaching for the pitchfork during these times. The governor parties while the serfs comply.

  10. Heinz says:

    Cannabis products are more than just marijuana (weed, pot), so I don’t know whether your data is all inclusive or just pot sales.

    For example, there is a health supplement product (CBD) derived from marijuana or hemp (hemp is in same plant family as marijuana). And there are many consumer cannibinoid products such as skin creams, tinctures, and gels.

    CBD (often used for pain relief, insomnia, and other health challenges) usually contains very little THC (cannabis psychoactive compound) than marijuana, and as long as it meets a threshold limit of THC CBD can be sold freely on the market without restrictions or prescriptions.

    I reserve judgement on some cannabis products as far as morality– in certain forms it is indeed a remarkable natural medicine and not a psychedelic drug to fry your brain with.

    But this explosion of cannabis sales in the Socialist Republic of California is a harbinger for rest of nation. We are truly the sickest, most drugged up, intoxicated, and over medicated society in history.

    • doug says:

      ‘documented sales’ explosion.
      Dope has been grown and sold in vast quantities in Ca prior to the legalization. Some of the sales you see here used to be in the undocumented sales category.

    • Stuart says:

      “ Socialist Republic of California “ ? What part of the means of production does the State of California own and control ? Are you serious ?

  11. Paulo says:

    It isn’t about taxation money re: weed sales. The real money is in incarceration, privatised prisons, private prison services, policing, and the legal services industries. And the taxation of all above.

    I live where pot is legal to buy, possess, and grow. No one cares and no one asks beyond the concern of idiots driving while intoxicated on any substance.

    If the Feds and States took a sane approach to drug use I am sure the prison population could be cut in half as the criminal element was sidelined along the way. Alcoholism is a disease, and left untreated ends up costing society an insane amount of money in numerous jurisdictions. Drug addiction and over use should be treated as thus with the same benefits accruing.

    Quick search: 15 percent of state prisoners at year-end 2015 had been convicted of a drug offense as their most serious infraction. In comparison, 47% of federal prisoners serving time in September 2016 (the most recent date for which data are available) were convicted of a drug offense.

    One of my best friend’s son just died on October 31st. Drug overdose. Fentanyl. Supplied by criminal element selling an unregulated product. I expect to see drug use in BC to be decriminalised within a year, and treated as another medical problem to solve. Not only will this save taxpayers billions, young men such as this will be able to recover and lead a productive life. The man in question was a marine mechanic, married to a nurse/administrator, and left behind two children and his own Mom and Dad. This was a tragedy that could have been averted.

    Legal pot sales is the first baby step towards sanity and should have nothing to do with taxation, imho. The old (we have to tax to pay for regulation) is long bast it’s sell date.

    • Paulo says:

      Meant to say…past its sell date.


    • Tom15 says:

      Some are just to addictive to legalize.
      I have a friend who transports meth addicts for treatment.
      Only been a driver for 2yrs. Still waiting for that 1st passenger to beat the addiction. In that sense its job security for him.
      Gratefull I grew up in an era of cheap beer and ditch weed.

    • 2banana says:

      You really think that Walmart selling fentanyl and meth would have prevented this death?

      So you think there are no deaths by legal alcohol?

      “This was a tragedy that could have been averted.”

    • Implicit says:

      True that. Legalization would save lives and money. People would be more likely to seek help.
      Unfortunately some people will always choose addiction, and a slow or fast insidious death, but they won’t be locked up at tax payors expense. Heroine and alcohol recidivism is real high.
      There are known treatments with psychedelics under medically managed programs that have shown success.
      The psychedelics used are legal in some countries, but the US classifies them as Class 1 substances.
      Methadone is not cutting the mustard.

    • Lee says:

      Mostly brought to you in the USA as a result of law reform in the US criminal justice system by the party and guy who might be he next person in the White House.

      Geez, you got a guy and party who screwed over people on their student loans and then put a huge number of people in prison (mostly minorities) as a result of their enforcement actions and people elect them to office.

      Oh, and don’t forget that the former California AG was smoking pot at the same time she was putting people in jail for doing the same thing and laughing about it……………….
      Yeah, isn’t Amerika great?

      • Wolf Richter says:

        She wasn’t “putting people in jail for smoking pot.” Smoking pot is not a felony in California, and wasn’t during her time in office. Dealing in certain quantities of controlled substances was a felony however. But dealing and smoking are two different activities.

        • Aaron says:

          Where did she get her weed from, pray tell?

        • Lee says:


          “During her tenure as attorney general, at least 1,560 people were thrown behind bars for marijuana-related offenses from 2011 to 2016, according to data from the Washington Free Beacon.”

          “Importantly, this figure is necessarily an undercount of the total number of people actually prosecuted for marijuana offenses during Harris’s term as Attorney General. The sharp decline between 2011 and 2012 is not a reflection of leniency on Harris’s part, but because of something called Public Safety Realignment.

          A federal court found in 2011 that California’s state-level prisons were dangerously overcrowded, ordering it to reduce populations to more manageable levels. To do so, the state began filtering many lower-level offenders—including drug offenders—into county jails, meaning that they dropped out of state-level totals but were still incarcerated.

          Under realignment, “most lower-level offenders with no record of sexual, violent, or serious crimes now serve sentences in county jail or under county probation supervision,” the Public Policy Institute of California noted in 2015.

          County-level populations ticked up following realignment, but no data source breaks those figures down by offense. As such it is not clear how many additional marijuana offenders were prosecuted under Harris and then diverted to county jails. As a result, 1,560 is the lower bound of individuals sent to prison by Harris for marijuana from 2011 to 2016.”

          May not be a felony, but it was still a crime and people were sent to prison or jail for it while she was in office.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          “marijuana-related offenses” is dealing and possession of quantities above a minimum, not “smoking pot.” And throwing people into jail for “smoking pot” is what you said. It was a pure political cheap-shot garbage lie leveled a politician you hate for visceral reasons of your own.

    • Dave says:

      Well, the pandemic may have played a part increasing health care issues (mental health and physical health are 2 sides of same coin).

      People may also be drinking much more alcohol and driving as well…. booze sales are up, and people use it in times of duress…. and our current world is overflowing with duress

  12. AbstractSyntax says:

    I think the health dangers of weed are overblown. That said, as a California resident, I hate the intrusive nature of the stuff. It’s illegal to drink and drive, but clouds of weed smoke coming out of cars seems to attract zero enforcement. Never mind the 24/7 stench if your apartment neighbor is a chronic user.

    • Happy1 says:

      All apartment complexes in CO now smell like weed. Used to be just the ski buses. Glad I’m a homeowner.

  13. MiTurn says:

    In Washington pot is also legal, when purchased from government-sanctioned vendors — like alcohol sales. Sales aren’t great. Why? Hard to compete with the pre-legal already-established informal network and home-grown.

    This is according to a licensed dealer I know.

  14. Minutes says:

    “not within 1,000 feet of daycare centers”

    Pot Preschools was a big worry? The ABC’s of THC?

  15. Lisa_Hooker says:

    “Dope will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no dope.” – Freewheelin’ Franklin, 1968

    Around the same time I believe he also said that smoking dope and drinking beer is like pissing into the wind.

  16. Robert says:

    Once weed is legal, won’t people just start growing it at home to avoid the taxes? You really can’t prevent people from doing this.

    I think I may have toked too much because I keep reading Janet Yellen is going to be Fed chair again. I assume we’ll go back to QE on steroids. (at least Powell attempted to raise rates.

    • Massbytes says:

      When you can get an eighth ounce for close to $20 in 50 different varieties, hand-trimmed and nicely packaged, you don’t bother to grow.

      • Lisa_Hooker says:

        When one plant yields 4-5oz cleaned and dry it becomes an interesting proposition, especially if you’re out of work and don’t have a spare $20. It grows like a weed. Note that some of us can’t drink Cristal all the time.

    • josap says:

      Janet Yellen will be Sec of the Treasury.

  17. Sir Eduard R. Dingleberry III says:

    Sin is harmful to the individual. (Seems good at the moment but turns out bad later on.) Society is made up of individuals who interact with each other. So sin is bad for society. None of us are perfect so some sin is expected. There was only one perfect guy anyway and, uh, we killed him. We should try to minimize sin so we can all live together more harmoniously.

    • josap says:

      People stoned on pot are pretty mellow and harmonious.

      • Sir Eduard R. Dingleberry III says:

        Lol! True. In some ways they are. Hope I didn’t sound too serious. I just wish I would have stayed out of all of that when I was younger. It was easy to slide into hedonism and hard to get out.

      • Heinz says:

        And much more docile and easier to control …

        People like to be stoned and too ‘happy’ to deal with unpleasant real world?

  18. OutWest says:

    “Once weed is legal, won’t people just start growing it at home to avoid the taxes? You really can’t prevent people from doing this.”

    Yes, nearly all states (except for Washington State) allow residents to home grow legally for personal use. Some people do that but for infrequent users it is easier to just stop by a pot shop and buy it. Growing your own at home takes time and commitment, not unlike tending to a vegetable garden.

  19. nick kelly says:

    Sorry to go off topic, but there is good news for all those shorting the stock market. Bitcoin has hit 19K and on Money Talk a Canuck biz show a supposedly qualified guy is predicting 50K in 2021.

    Makes tulip bulbs look cheap, even at their peak.
    Asked about intrinsic value, he quickly switched to talking about the shortage of BC, cuz after all it is limited edition. Which begs the question: so what?

    • Old School says:

      When the clock strikes midnight things will be worth the sum of the future discounted cash flows and no more. All the the fantasies will go poof.

      • Implicit says:

        Indeed! Once the pandemic free money mask comes off the depression level GDP shows it’s face, and it won’t be pretty

    • Rowen says:

      Marijuana money isn’t allowed to be deposited in federally insured banks, so i wonder how much weed profits are being stored in BTC.

    • fajensen says:

      I would Wait and Relax until vaccination starts.

      There will be at least one or two “vaccine boosts” still to come on the announcements, once vaccination is online and Covid-19 “solved”, people will have time for wider concerns and the numbers will be looked at again.

    • c1ue says:

      Those bitcoin prophets are just pump and dumper morons.
      There is, however, a short term real trading-induced dynamic now that Bitcoin has jumped over +30% for 2020:

  20. makruger says:

    I marveled at those Cannabis billboards when I visited San Francisco in the spring of 2018. I guess we’ll know Cannabis has truly reached mainstream acceptance when Cannabis Aficionado becomes as popular as Wine Enthusiast found on the reading tables of B&B’s and barber shops.

  21. c1ue says:

    It is nonsense that legal marijuana has decreased illegal marijuana sales in California.
    For one thing, the illegal product is dramatically cheaper.
    For a second thing, legal marijuana makes prosecution of illegal marijuana more difficult. A person who buys 1 legal marijuana product can consume multiple illegal ones with plausible deniability if caught.
    And most importantly: California legal marijuana is increasing illegal marijuana sales in other states because the glut of marijuana produced keeps increasing – this glut gets exported.

  22. Yort says:

    Long iphones and weed as soon as Uncle Sam forgives all the college debt in America? Seems kind of insane that college loans can be used for anything one desires, be it legal or illegal purchases. Imagine getting an auto loan and buying weed, a Glock, and some prnhub premium…and then having the government forgive the loans because having to honor a loan contract is unfair. American exceptionalism at its best…HA Go to jail if you do not pay your taxes on labor wages to fund illegal free purchases, yet you do not even have to pay any taxes on the loan money the government forgives…brilliant! So the only way to not pay taxes and make money is to default on your loan obligations? Yep, no moral hazards there…

  23. DanS86 says:

    If Alcohol and Pharma can be advertised then Weed should have that privilege too. Tally up the home damage done by alcohol vs weed…if you’re an idiot, you will be shocked.

  24. Yort says:

    Our new Secretary of Debt Janet Yellen will team up with our Fed Village Idiot Jeremy Powell to provide free weed for the entire “ALICE” class (asset limited,income constrained, employed). Fed analysis has shown weed to be the cheapest way to keep the peasants numb and distracted…

  25. Mad Dog says:

    I’m sticking with a nice cold Bud Light for my evening pleasure with my meal. Doesn’t affect anyone else like weed, cigarettes and cigars do. My kid lives in a Condo and can smell the weed and cigarette smoke coming up from the unit below. On the golf course you can smell a cigar from 50 feet from the tee box. You can have the weed. Same with the cancer causing cigarettes and cigars.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Mad Dog,

      To really step to the edge and do something radical, try out your local or semi-local/regional craft brews, and taste your way through them. You might find something that’s a real treat.

  26. Pete Stubben says:

    OMG…forty million more paranoid schizophrenics in America!!!…PJS

  27. BuySome says:

    Wow, everytime Wolf rolls one of these fatboys of full of that Government Ganja, every Drugstore Cowboy comes down to tout the pleasures of a giant Camberwell Carrot. Ain’t no ‘dicshun in this hood. /sarc

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