Friday May 11, 2018

By Nicholas Demski

Will California's Adult-Use Cannabis Industry Affect Medical Marijuana? News

Putting the disparity between Federal and State Governments aside, the legalization of recreational cannabis in California is creating a profound impact on the medical marijuana industry. Precisely what is going to happen in the long run is not yet certain, but there are a few indicators of what will, according to the legislation and industry thought-leaders.

Will the medical marijuana industry collapse? Will it remain unchanged? How will recreational marijuana impact the medical scene? These are all questions people have been asking since California started recreational sales on January 1st. They’re all valid questions, and concerns over the future of medical cannabis in the Golden State are not wholly unfounded. However, it’s unlikely we should expect a complete collapse of any medical marijuana industry.

Will the Medical Marijuana Industry Remain the Same?

Quite simply, no, the medical marijuana industry is not going to remain the same as it was. Yes, patients still have safe access to medical cannabis, but the industry itself is undergoing several changes.

One major change that’s almost certain to happen is a decrease in the medical cannabis industry’s yearly revenue marks. Early estimates are expecting to see a drop from $2 billion to $1.4 billion. It’s a significant drop, but that loss of revenue is going to shift into the recreational market. So, California is not going to lose money overall.

Strong Cannabis Industry
With its massive size, California's medical cannabis industry is likely strong enough to sustain slight dips in revenue.

Additionally, while some municipalities have been charging $150 to $175 for medical marijuana prescription cards, California will now be capping the registration fees at $100. While this is a welcome move for medical marijuana patients, they’ll be even more delighted to hear that they won’t be required to pay the sales tax instilled on recreational marijuana sales – although medical patients are still subject to the 15% tax imposed by Proposition 64, plus any additional local taxes.

Despite a slight increase in prices, one report says that obtaining – or maintaining – a medical marijuana card will save consumers 20% in fees on their cannabis in comparison to the recreational market. Those types of savings could lead many people to keep their medical marijuana cards up-to-date. If they do, it’s likely that the medical industry won’t change much as a whole.

Another benefit for medical marijuana holders is that the new legislation in California has verbiage that protects the data on their medical marijuana cards. This added protection should help ease any internal conflicts people are having over whether to register with the State Government or not.

If you’re interested in applying for a medical marijuana card in California, check out our helpful guide!

In a move to protect families, the new legislation also prevents the use of medical marijuana from being used as a factor in custodial rights. Plainly, no one is going to lose their children over their medical cannabis. While the language in the legislation is highly progressive and looks to protect individuals who consume cannabis, there are those who suggest the medical marijuana industry is all but doomed.

Is the Medical Marijuana Industry at its End?

According to Weed News, recreational cannabis legalization will ultimately lead to the toppling of the medical marijuana industry. The theory is that medical marijuana laws came into play to protect patients from being arrested for their cannabis use. This is largely indisputable. Before medical marijuana laws were introduced, many people were being given years behind bars for self-medicating.

Medical Cannabis Sign
Medical marijuana is a necessary part of any state's legal cannabis industry as it provides safe, cheaper access to medicine for patients. photo credit

Thankfully, these laws have protected many people from incarceration. The question now is whether medical marijuana industries will be needed at all now that legalization is on the move. With California’s enactment of legalized recreational marijuana, it’s likely that the rest of the United States will follow suit.

Our nation’s largest economy, and the world’s 7th largest, are going to see revenue numbers that other states, businesses, and countries will not be able to ignore. So, if recreational cannabis becomes commonplace, what’s the reason for the medical marijuana marketplace at all? In states like Colorado, patients would argue a plethora of reasons to keep medical cannabis around.

While Colorado has seen significant drops in their medical marijuana patient numbers since enacting legalized recreational markets, the state’s medical cannabis market has largely remained stable.

Marijuana helps people manage their chronic diseases, deal with never-ending pain, and positively impacts a large host of medical issues that people suffer from. Because of this, medical patients are more specialized in their approach to cannabis use and look for specific THC:CBD ratios to manage their symptoms and pain.

This need for specialized marijuana and budtenders who act as caretakers for people suffering is what will keep the medical marijuana industry afloat. Dr. Bonni Goldstein, who’s been treating adults and children with cannabis for over a decade, says, “some physicians, like myself, who see mostly very ill patients–such as those with epilepsy, cancer, and other serious conditions–will likely not see a drop-off as we are involved in managing the cannabis treatment.”

While some people may no longer see a need to keep their medical marijuana card, the patients who are truly suffering will. Luckily for them, the medical marijuana industry is likely to strengthen in their favor.

Will Medical Marijuana Improve Under the New Laws?

With regulations and controls placed over the medical marijuana industry, it’s likely that medical marijuana patients will see an improvement in their experience. The medical marijuana industry is going to see stricter hygiene requirements within dispensaries, improved quality and manufacturing controls, and hopefully the depreciation of the black market over time.

In almost every state that has enacted both legalized and medical marijuana consumption, the medical marijuana industry lives on.

Cannabis is a plant full of healing agents and people will undoubtedly continue to address their medical issues with those healing agents. While the medical marijuana industries are likely to hemorrhage some of their revenue to the recreational market, it will not destroy them entirely. There will always be a market for medical cannabis consumers because there will always be people who need cannabis as a medicine.

In conclusion, medical marijuana in California isn’t going anywhere. If you’re the betting type, bet on the medical cannabis industry to remain vibrant and see improvements as the years go by.

How do you think California’s medical cannabis industry will be affected by the state’s new recreational market? Share your thoughts below!

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons (license)

Nicholas Demski Nicholas Demski

Nicholas is a freelance writer and featured contributor for Plurality Press, Content Pros, INC., and has been featured in Reader's Digest. His poetry has been printed in The Broad River Review, Whiskey Island, and Artifact Nouveau. He encourages you to follow him on Instagram @TheSingleDadNomad, Twitter @NicholasDemski, and blogs about his life on

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