Legal Weed in California: Who Benefits?

Some growers will win big. Others fear they will be squeezed out. A new Vice News video talks to both sides.

Photo Credit: Peter Kim / Shutterstock.com

With the pot-legalizing Proposition 64 cruising to easy victory in California last week, the Golden State is poised to become the world's leading marijuana marketplace. According to the Arcview Group, legalization will more than double the size of the state's pot market, from $2.8 billion last year to $6.5 billion by 2020.

Given that the state already has tens of thousands of black and gray market growers, as well as would-be entrepreneurs rushing in with dollar signs in their eyes, there are going to be winners and losers among the pot-growing community.

In a new segment of Vice News Tonight, correspondent Dexter Thomas met with two marijuana growers in distinctly different situations to get a sense of how this might all shake out.

On the one hand, he talks with Steve DeAngelo, the executive director of Harborside Health Center in Oakland, already a medical marijuana powerhouse with three dispensaries, its own growing and manufacturing facilities, and 200 employees. For DeAngelo, "legalization in California is not just a victory for me; it is, in many ways, the culmination of my life's work." And Harborside is well-situated to take advantage of full-on legalization.

Things are a bit different for Sacramento grower "Trip," whose black and gray market business could be pushed right out of the emerging legal marijuana market. "Trip" says he's going to stay in the game—there are still black markets in marijuana in 42 other states—but that he's worried the big boys are going to squeeze him out. "That's my biggest concern," he said.

Watch the video below to get a fuller sense of the contradictions emerging with legal marijuana in California.


Phillip Smith is editor of the AlterNet Drug Reporter and author of the Drug War Chronicle.

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