How many people in California actually use marijuana?

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Though medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996, voters passed the Adult Use Marijuana Act, otherwise known as Prop 64, in 2016. “Adult use” means that the devil’s lettuce, as your conservative aunt used to call it, is now legal in California for any adult who wishes to partake, with a medical cannabis card in California or not. Of course, it still took the state until January of 2018 to begin licensing dispensaries for recreational sales, and a lot of questions remain.

But as the first year of licensed sales comes to a close, California’s legal market hasn’t performed as state officials and the cannabis industry had hoped. Retailers and growers say they’ve been stunted by complex regulations, high taxes and decisions by most cities to ban cannabis shops. At the same time, many residents are going to city halls and courts to fight pot businesses they see as nuisances, and police chiefs are raising concerns about crime triggered by the marijuana trade.

Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom, who played a large role in the legalization of cannabis, will inherit the numerous challenges when he takes office in January as legislators hope to send him a raft of bills next year to provide banking for the pot industry, ease the tax burden on retailers and crackdown on sales to minors.

A report from the LA County Dept. of Public Health found the percentage of adults over the age of 18 who reported using marijuana increased 33 percent from 2011 to 2015, from 9 percent to 12 percent.

Results of the 8,008-adult survey indicated a person’s country of origin was a factor in whether or not they used marijuana. As an example, researchers pointed to the fact that use among Latinos and Asians overall, 10 percent and 6 percent, respectively, was lower than whites at 15 percent. However, use among U.S.-born Latinos and Asians was much higher. For U.S.-born Latinos it was 20 percent; U.S.-born Asians used more than double at 13 percent.

“The extremely low use of marijuana among those not born in the US is encouraging and suggests that cultural norms may have a protective effect in immigrant communities,” researchers concluded.

Twenty percent of African-Americans surveyed said they used marijuana.

They also noted use among adults living below the federal poverty level was lower than all other income groups at 8 percent, while use among U.S.-born persons living under the poverty line was 19 percent.

“High rates of marijuana use among low-income communities prior to the passage of Prop 64 means we must pay close attention to where dispensaries are clustered post-legalization,” researchers said.

Proposition 64, passed in 2016, allowed adults 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of marijuana. Purchases of cannabis at licensed dispensaries were made legal this year.

Nobody said it’d be easy, exactly. But nobody anticipated it’d be quite this hard to get Californians to buy legal weed.

That’s been the dominant takeaway from the Golden State’s first year of legalized recreational marijuana sales.

Rather, sales fell: About $2.5 billion of legal cannabis was sold in California last year, which was half a billion dollars less than the year before when just medical marijuana was legal, the sales tracking firm GreenEdge found

Still, analysts predict there will be plenty of money to be made.

A report from Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics recently estimated that spending growth on legal cannabis will speed up this year, hitting almost $17 billion worldwide, and ballooning to $31.3 billion in 2022.

In its annual State of Cannabis report, the cannabis delivery platform Eaze highlighted that the market is rapidly expanding beyond young men — even if, as Peter Gigante, the company’s head of policy research, noted, one in five people surveyed admitted to buying from an unlicensed source in the last three months. “I think there’s a lot of focus on getting consumers into the legal market,” he said.

Part of that will certainly involve tailoring products especially to new consumers, who may not have been willing to try out cannabis when it wasn’t legal. So who are those new customers? Here are some of the stats from Eaze’s report, which was based on data from 450,000 buyers and about 4,000 survey respondents.

25%

Though medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996, voters passed the Adult Use Marijuana Act, otherwise known as Prop 64, in 2016. “Adult use” means that the devil’s lettuce, as your conservative aunt used to call it, is now legal in California for any adult who wishes to partake, with a medical cannabis card in California or not. Of course, it still took the state until January of 2018 to begin licensing dispensaries for recreational sales, and a lot of questions remain.

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