California's Adult Use Dispensaries Are Still Few and Far Between

Eight months after California legalized commercial marijuana, the number of cannabis businesses that have received proper licensing remains underwhelming to say the least.

There are just 358 licensed pot shops in the state, according to new figures from the Bureau of Cannabis Control. That’s less than one store per 100,000 residents – far below the ratio seen in states like Oregon and Colorado, as this eye-popping chart from Marijuana Business Daily shows. 

Local opposition to cannabis remains a major hurdle. In Fresno and Bakersfield, both large population centers, the nearest licensed pot shop is an hour’s drive away.

The issue stems from California’s dual-licensing system between state and local governments, which requires cannabis businesses to obtain local authorization from the city and/or the county in which they’ll operate before they can apply for a state license.

But only 70 of the state’s 482 cities allow adult-use retail stores, according to a database created by The Cannifornian, a news outlet covering the California marijuana industry.

Though it’s still very early for California’s recreational marijuana industry, and more towns and municipalities will likely eventually allow adult-use stores, the state has not kept pace with other markets on the number of licensed rec shops early on.

The dearth of licensed establishments has contributed to lower than expected tax revenues and a resilient black market. To help combat the problem, the BCC is considering statewide marijuana deliveries. That plan has garnered fierce opposition from local government advocates and law enforcement groups.


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