For Colorado, Washington, and likely many states to follow, maintaining distinct markets for medical and recreational marijuana is desirable. Among other reasons, the states would like to offer a tax break to medical users, and enjoy the bounty of recreational marijuana taxation. Currently, the lines between these markets are blurry at best. Before recreational pot was legalized, medical marijuana regulation in the aforementioned states was very loose. It wasn’t just a bunch of old ladies with glaucoma puffing in their puffy living room chairs. Anything from menstrual cramps to headaches was due cause for a prescription. Now that weed users can get high without fear of punishment, legalized states expected massive tax revenues. Although the tax money did flow in like honey, it was less than anticipated. This is because many recreational users are buying through the medical dispensaries to enjoy tax free ganja.
When first legalizing recreational marijuana, the state of Colorado allowed medical growers and dispensaries to service the recreational market. Meanwhile they began implementing a system for recreational growth and sales and hoped that after a year or so most “medical users” would move over to the recreational market. Why they would anticipate such a shift when medical pot is cheaper is beyond me, maybe they were relying on the honor system. But when medical conditions warranting pot use include such things as depression, anxiety and chronic back pain, clearly they left the door wide open for a low tax puff.
What happened in Washington state was slightly more complicated. Washington never fully implemented a system for the growth and distribution of medical marijuana. The mostly black-market marijuana system was informal at best. Additionally, medical users were permitted to grow for themselves. Recreational users, however, are not permitted to grow for themselves and must procure weed from strictly legislated growers and dispensers. In a system like that, Washington residents are better off considering themselves patients than consumers. Dismantling the black market medical marijuana system has proven difficult, but the state will continue to try to move the market over to a regulated system of recreational weed sales.
California is a whole other story. The medical marijuana co-op system of growth in California has led to a full blown grey market where hardly anything is exactly legal or illegal. For example A famous hip hop artist Snoop Dogg has launched hist marijuana vaporizer brand (find our more here: snoop dogg g pen vaporizer review) in California. November 2016 all but promises full legalization for California residents and it behooves to state to get their marijuana market under control before that date comes.
The question for marijuana advocates is this: what do we really want? Legal marijuana for medical necessity? Or a final end to prohibition and full legalization in all states? The future of marijuana use would best serve states under a unified system of both medical and recreational, as we are learning from our weed pioneering states.