Unregulated CA entrepreneurs thrive in … the pot business

Unregulated CA entrepreneurs thrive in … the pot business

Happy New Year!

Are you familiar with the state that has such an innovative and advanced marijuana industry that quality control extends to making sure pot brands consistently produce the same sensations? Where entrepreneurs are turning to increasingly sophisticated tools to improve their product and reach out to customers?

prop-19No, I’m not talking about Colorado or Washington state. I’m talking about California. Reason magazine’s Greg Beato has a fascinating look at the Golden State’s national leadership in a field, so to speak, that few know of. Beato considers this development an inspiring model of unrestrained, risk-taking, innovative capitalism:

“A previously forbidden sector of commerce has evolved into an increasingly professionalized multibillion-dollar industry, complete with a robust retail infrastructure, a lucrative trade in equipment and supplies, trade shows, media outlets, educational institutions, and a surprisingly vast supply of entrepreneurial stoners who seem to get at least as buzzed by marketing, product innovation, and event management as they do by a few puffs of Platinum Skywalker. All without any regulatory hand holding from Sacramento. …

“We live in an age of pervasive government intervention. The Code of Federal Regulations has added 43,504 pages since California first passed Proposition 215 in 1996. Yet while this bureaucratic bulwark was growing as thick as the Great Wall of China, our nation’s largest state, which doubles as the world’s eighth-largest economy, was permitting the sale of a substance that had been illegal for 60-plus years. In theory, this wild, wild west should have exploded into chaos, or at least something a little more raucous than a bunch of entrepreneurial Ph.D.s monitoring the fungus levels of freshly cultivated Lemon Kush.

“Yes, there has been drama over the years: NIMBY complaints, dispensary bans, and, of course, federal raids. But the most visible manifestations of California’s medical marijuana industry have been hydro stores in strip malls, advertisements in alternative weeklies, and $12,000 trim machines. While the threat of federal intervention and city-wide regulations have played significant roles in the industry’s evolution, capitalism arguably has been its most functional regulator.”

There is a downside to this tale

There is a downside to this tale that Reason’s article doesn’t address. CalWatchdog’s Katy Grimes had a grim piece over the summer about the toll some pot growers are taking on wilderness areas.

But as a libertarian who thinks the drug war is crazy and that excessive government regulation is destructive, I found Beato’s story deeply enjoyable.

Read it here.

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