Skip to main content

California Still Counting Votes, but Cannabis Was a Clear Winner

While election day couldn’t get over soon enough for a lot of people, the 2018 midterms feel like they won’t ever end with recounts ongoing in Florida and votes still being counted in California and throughout the West. Political analysts will be debating the lessons learned from the 2018 elections for days, weeks, and months to come, but one lesson is abundantly clear-cannabis was a winner at the ballot box, particularly in California. The Golden State overwhelmingly elected Gavin Newsom (who spoke at a previous International Cannabis Business Conference VIP event) as governor, turned a Drug War warrior like Senator Dianne Feinstein into a states-rights legalization supporter, and approved a bevy of local measures setting the stage for more licensed cannabis businesses and tax revenue.

Leafly’s David Downs (who will be onstage at the upcoming ICBC in San Francisco) reported on Governor-elect Newsom’s potential impact on the California cannabis industry:

Newsom will preside over the ongoing implementation of legalization Proposition 64. The governor’s office sets priorities for the legislative calendar and wields a veto over all state bills.

California finalizes its cannabis industry regulations this month and needs his help, said Jacqueline McGowan, director of licensing and business development at K Street Consulting.

“Gavin Newsom has become a thought leader in the cannabis space,” she said. “I truly admired his approach with the creation of the Blue Ribbon Commission in order to study the policy changes when it became apparent that legalization would be on a future ballot in California. I believe Newsom will continue to not only lead but also to listen to the industry’s concerns and implement sound policy to solve many of the urgent problems the regulated market is enduring. From high taxes, to an unchecked and thriving illicit market, and a lack of safe access throughout the state, there’s no shortage of problems that need his assistance.”

Marijuana Business Daily reported on the impact on the 94 local cannabis proposals put before California voters:

Just 15 of the 94 were defeated at the ballot box, with most of the initiatives approving new marijuana business taxes.

Approval of these types of measures are closely watched by cannabis entrepreneurs because industry watchers say:

  • Many of those tax measures are likely the first step toward establishing business licensing processes and regulations within the marijuana industry.

  • They believe Election Day victories are probably going to help expand business opportunities in California.

There will be many challenges ahead for the California cannabis community as different interest groups, both pro and con, lobby legislators and regulators on future laws and policies, don’t let anyone sugarcoat the obstacles the industry will face. Opportunities abound, however, for those that manage to survive the gauntlet that is the California regulatory system, especially once federal prohibition falls and California producers and manufacturers are allowed to export and retailers are no longer taxed unfairly by Uncle Sam’s 280e tax provision. Ending federal prohibition is on the horizon and California helped put another nail in prohibition’s coffin in 2018.

If you want to stay on top of political and regulatory developments in California, and prepare for the future of the industry (as well as survive the present), then you must be at the International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco on February 7-8, 2019. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn directly from the top regulators in the state and network with like-minded investors and entrepreneurs. The event is expected to sell out, so secure your spot, and save some money, by purchasing your early-bird tickets by January 18th. 

David Downs, Gavin Newsom, Leafly, Marijuana Business Daily