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Pot Smokers Frustrated With Agonizingly Slow Pace Of Legalization In California

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Pot smokers are going to be waiting a long time to reap the rewards of recreational legalization, which may take two years to implement in California.

Proposition 64 passed with popular approval Election Day, legalizing marijuana for recreational use across the state, but voters are going to be waiting longer than expected to buy their legal weed. The ballot promised that smokers looking to buy recreational marijuana commercially would be able to beginning Jan 1. 2018. The ballot is at odds with current state law, however, governing growing marijuana, medical marijuana and dispensaries throughout California, reports The Mercury News.

Reconciling the new law with the current one will likely delay the commercial marijuana industry in the state until 2019.

“It is a very real challenge,” Assemblyman Jim Wood told The Mercury News. “Do we have two systems that move in parallel or one unitary system that combines the two? My hope is that we can all sit down and work out the differences.”

There is also a growing dispute over the cultivation tax included in the recreational marijuana ballot. Proposition 64 creates a 15 percent sales tax on all commercial marijuana purchases. It also levels two new taxes on marijuana farmers, who have long existed to service the state’s medical marijuana industry. Farmers would be taxed $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of stems and leaves. Marijuana farmers are particularly disgruntled over the tax on stems and leaves, the leftovers of the plant that many times never even make it to market.

Industry experts in California are also anxiously awaiting the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency, and what his administration might mean for legalized marijuana at the state level. Lawmakers are apparently waiting to see how Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, acts with regards to state autonomy on marijuana.

“A lot of local governments are cautious and want to see which way it goes, see if federal agents come close them down,” Nate Bradley, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association, told The Mercury News. “The Trump element was a monkey wrench no one saw coming. He is such a wild card.”

It remains unclear whether or not Trump will be adversarial against state marijuana laws, but he did promise to respect state law on the issue during the campaign.

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