In the United States, 47 of the 50 states have either legalized recreational marijuana, allowed for medical marijuana, or have decriminalized pot use in some way.
California, the largest state in the U.S., legalized recreational marijuana in January, and dispensaries have never been busier. CGTN’s Phil Lavelle reports.
“California was the first state to legalize medical use of marijuana back in 1996, so for nearly 20 years, this market has been evolving but it took on a kind of warp speed over the last five years and become a true industry,” said Daniel Yi, the senior vice president of communications for MedMen Cannabis Dispensaries which operates in Southern California, Las Vegas, and New York.
Modern cannabis shops often look like sleek boutiques.
“You are having new consumers who are finding the space that maybe they tried cannabis, you know, 20 or 15 years ago and they haven’t really done anything in the last 15 years, and now they’re coming into a store like this and finding it for the first place,” Yi said.
But even though cannabis is allowed in most states, it’s still illegal at a federal level, creating a strange paradox where federal law is broken in plain sight.
It also raises other questions, such as how marijuana companies do their banking.
“There is actually a guideline from the U.S. Treasury Department for how you can bank cannabis business like MedMen in states where it’s legal. But it’s very onerous for banks to do that so if you’re a national bank with branches all over the country, it would be hard for you to create a whole system where it’s only applicable in a number of states,” Yi said.
Despite challenges, sellers hope it’s just a matter of time before recreational marijuana is legal throughout the U.S.
“We believe that we are on the right side of history here and we believe that eventually, federal prohibition will end,” Yi said.