It has only been a little over a year since weed became legal in California, but in that short amount of time, the industry has boomed and become a more popular industry to be a part of. Now that cannabis is legal in California, things have rapidly changed for many people, including those who have been on the medical marijuana program for years. They used to be able to get their cannabis products for much cheaper, let’s say an eighth of weed was 35$. Now, some strains that have higher THC or CBD levels that these customers need cost upwards of $90-$100 for the same amount. That’s a pretty big leap, and while some people are willing to pay it, others do not have the resources to do so. Marijuana isn’t covered by insurance, and clearly, it can get pricey.
The problem comes from the fact that marijuana is more accessible now, but it also seems like some products are just priced too high for what they offer. The patients who do not have the means to pay for their cannabis this way get stuck in a weird place of still needing these products, but not being able to get them. Another big thing to think about is that now most things like edibles have a potency cap. This means that patients have to take more of them to feel the effects even though they used to needless because it had more THC or CBD. That means they have to buy more product that is already overpriced just to be able to ease their pain.
A few years ago, industry trade groups estimated that California was home to 50,000 growers and some 12,500 dispensaries. But in the year or so that Prop. 64 has been in effect, the state has only issued licenses to a fraction of that number. The problem that is there is still a ton of farmers and dispensaries that produce and distribute cannabis illegally. So even though it is now legal in California, some patients may turn to the lower-priced stuff that may not be tested or completely follow the law.
When marijuana became legal, the prices tripled in cost, but the medical side of the drug was pushed aside. Because of the new laws in place, it was harder for farmers to comply with the regulations, even if they had been growing cannabis for years. Patients in many states that have been part of their medical marijuana programs have said that since cannabis became legal, they have seen a lower dosage of the products they need. When their go-to resource for cannabis closes up shop, it leaves the medical patients who have relied on them with nowhere to turn.
The difference is that general consumers want a certain type of feeling from marijuana, while medical patients need the effects of cannabis for actual pain. Since cannabis became legal, the industry has pushed more to comply with the consumer's requests rather than the medical patient's requests because the number of general consumers outweighs the number of medical patients. Some medical patients have said that products that they have relied on for years have now disappeared from shelves for products that have a wider appeal.
California has always had a black market for cannabis, but with the new laws in place, people predicted that the illegal stuff would slowly disappear. However, law enforcement officials say the unlicensed, illegal market is still thriving. California is one of the only states that has this problem because it has had this illegal market for so long. Since many farmers have been growing marijuana for years, they are reluctant to go through the process to obtain licenses because it is expensive and they might be denied.
Some researchers believe that California’s taxes are too high, and the black market is too strong, making it difficult to regulate the industry as a whole. With the prices of cannabis continuing to rise, medical patients are left either paying a lot more for their products or turning to an illegal source for it. Cannabis is used by many people for actual illnesses and now these people that have been able to access their cannabis through a medical program for years are left with hoping new products will help them or turning to the black market. With the rise of cannabis only growing stronger, the prices will probably only get higher.
It seems that there needs to be a way for these medical patients to have access to their medication without these insane costs. At the rate it’s going, they may as well go back to pills. But if we can find a way to keep cannabis prices at a steady rate, most people would be able to afford it without all the hassle. Marijuana is supposed to help people, not make them worry about more things like money, so it’s time to have a think about the options available and how we can help make prices better for all.