In 2016, Californians voted to legalize recreational adult-use marijuana. Proponents of Proposition 64, including then-Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, argued that it would generate massive revenue, while decreasing illicit cannabis and drug cartel activity in the state.
Now, nearly six years later, it’s clear that promise has not been kept.
While the state has collected billions in tax revenue from cannabis sales since legalization went into effect in 2018, billions more continue to pour into a thriving illicit market.
A new report from cannabis website Leafly found that more than half of all cannabis sales in the state (55%) are in the illegal market. It means the product being sold hasn’t been subjected to the state’s rigorous testing and tracking regimen, and can contain harmful pesticides or other powerful narcotics.