Californians Can Now Buy Recreational and Medical Cannabis in One Place, But Medical is Still Better – Here’s Why

Californians Can Now Buy Recreational and Medical Cannabis in One Place, But Medical is Still Better – Here’s Why

California Governor Jerry Brown and fellow legislators in the state made a bold proposal this past June, suggesting that marijuana dispensaries be permitted to sell both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana at the same facilities. This recommendation for a new “co-location rule” was a welcome move to the cannabis industry, which has long sought this capability in order to reduce costs, in part by reducing the number of dispensaries needing to be in operation. The California legislature approved legalizing medical cannabis in 2015, and voters approved legalizing recreational cannabis in 2016.

A concern addressed by opponents to the move is that medical marijuana can be sold to minors while recreational marijuana can only be sold to adults 21 years of age or older. In addition, medical marijuana purchase requires a medical cannabis card, issued by the state to individuals who procure a valid doctor’s recommendation, while recreational marijuana purchase has no such requirement. This would create a burden on dispensaries to properly monitor and control access to the facility and its products to ensure only properly qualified individuals are served, and a burden on government authorities to oversee that such measures are, indeed, taking place. On the flip side, by cutting the number of dispensaries in a given town or city potentially in half, the law enforcement costs in those places could drop dramatically.

The concept of colocation can be traced back two decades to the beginnings of the internet and the genesis of big data. Like the cannabis industry, the internet industry requires extensive resources in the way of electricity, climate control, storage, security, and data. The shift toward colocation allowed the consolidating of resources to be used for multiple applications. Other forms of colocation in relation to the cannabis industry being discussed and debated in states where medical and/or recreational cannabis is legal are:

* colocation of cannabis and alcohol sales, as is being done in Alberta, Canada
* colocation of cannabis cultivation and manufacturing with cannabis sales

One might wonder if the two branches of the marijuana industry were merged as Governor Brown and California legislators have so proposed, what would be the difference between recreational and medical marijuana sales to the individual who qualifies for both. What would be the advantage of buying one over the other? Most significantly, recreational marijuana will likely be much more expensive than medical marijuana. In part, this is because the state government will impose a high tax on recreational marijuana that will not be imposed on medical marijuana. It is, therefore, still beneficial to get a medical marijuana card.

The proposal by Governor Brown and cohorts was part of a larger batch of a proposal made regarding the state’s overall budget. Included was another proposal related to marijuana, making it an infraction to possess opened marijuana products inside a motor vehicle. This is not unlike the law California already has prohibiting open containers of alcohol inside motor vehicles.

California is on course to start issuing licenses allowing residents to grow, transport, test and sell marijuana in January of 2018. You don’t have to wait until then to get your medical marijuana card, however. You can get yours now completely online at

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