Pubdate: Tue, 12 Apr 2016
Source: Times-Tribune, The (Scranton PA)
Copyright: 2016
Author: Ian Lovett, the New York Times


New State Law Allows Cannabis Companies to Turn a Profit.

ADELANTO, Calif. - After decades of thriving in legally hazy 
backyards and basements, California's most notorious crop, marijuana, 
is emerging from the underground into a decidedly capitalist era.

Under a new state law, marijuana businesses will be allowed to turn a 
profit - which has been forbidden since 1996, when California became 
the first state to legalize medical cannabis - and limits on the 
number of plants farmers can grow will be eliminated.

The opening of the marijuana industry here to corporate dollars has 
caused a mad scramble, with out-of-state investors, cannabis 
retailers and financially strapped municipalities all racing to grab 
a piece of what is effectively a new industry in California: 
legalized, large-scale marijuana farming.

And with voters widely expected to approve recreational marijuana use 
in November, California, already the world's largest legal market for 
marijuana, gleams with the promise of profits far beyond what pot 
shops and growers have seen in Oregon or Colorado, the first states 
to approve recreational use.

"People are definitely salivating over the California market," said 
Troy Dayton, chief executive of the ArcView Group, a research firm in 
the Bay Area that specializes in marijuana. "It's huge, and 
Californians love cannabis so much."

In search of a tax windfall, cities across the Southern California 
desert, like Adelanto and Desert Hot Springs, have raced to be first 
to permit commercial marijuana cultivation. The price of land here 
tripled almost overnight as entrepreneurs bought up every inch of 
property where pot growing was permitted - most of it bare desert 
dotted with only Joshua trees and tumbleweeds.

Amid the frenzy, though, anxiety is growing in some corners of the 
state that corporate money will squeeze out not only the small-time 
growers, but also the hippie values that have been an essential part 
of marijuana's place in California culture.

Tommy Chong, of Cheech and Chong fame, has long been synonymous with 
California's outlaw stoner culture, growing his own pot and crafting 
bongs from kombucha bottles at his Los Angeles home. Now he is 
negotiating with a corporate partner to license his own brand of 
legal marijuana.

"If conglomerates come in, my answer is: God bless 'em - it saves me 
the hassle," Mr. Chong, 77, said in a telephone interview.

"Fashion changes, haircuts change," Mr. Chong said. "We go through 
cultural changes."

Adelanto, a rough-edged community in the high desert northeast of Los 
Angeles, is hoping to become a very different kind of pot mecca from 
Humboldt County. Envisioning a row of high-tech grow houses where 
there is now only a flat expanse of desert, Mayor Richard Kerr said 
the growers might need to build solar plants to support all the 
energy it would take to produce more than 100 tons of marijuana each year.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom