For Many Weed Entrepreneurs, the Barriers to California’s Legal Marketplace Remain Insurmountable

“So much heartache, so much pain.”

That’s how one cannabis entrepreneur describes the process of trying to enter California’s legal marijuana market.

Four years after California legalized cannabis, the process is still expensive, cumbersome, and—for too many—impossible to navigate. In a city like Oakland, licenses run anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000 a year. Even the equity program requires substantial paperwork. And not all local equity programs have been successful. In cities like San Jose, critics say the barriers to establishing a business can be next to impossible.

It’s no wonder that the black market continues to be so robust under these circumstances. But while the state sets its sights on increased enforcement mechanisms, the industry itself is begging for a simpler, less expensive process.

“We don’t need more oversight,” Dr. FloJaune Cofer, senior director of policy for the nonprofit Public Health Advocates, tells Bay Area News Group. “What we need is to make sure that we’ve removed all the barriers for those folks who are underground operators to become part of the legal economy.” 

It’s a message we’ve been hearing from Day 1. And it’s no less important today.