This segment originally aired Nov. 15, 2016, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.
Last week, California legalized marijuana for recreational use. The passage of Proposition 64 means the state is now poised to become the world’s largest legal weed marketplace — but that market place has rules. VICE News travelled to The Golden State to see who wins and who loses in the new business.
Steve DeAngelo, founder of Harborside Health Center in Oakland, is ecstatic about the new law. “Legalization in California is not just a victory for me, it is in many ways the culmination of my life’s work.” That victory includes entering into a market that’s estimated to be worth more than 7 billion taxable dollars by the year 2020. But not all cannabis entrepreneurs are excited about the passage of Proposition 64 — California’s new law is also intended to drive others out of the market entirely.
VICE News spoke with a grower named “Trip” who remains in California’s black market. With full legalization, underground growers like Trip are on the outside looking in. Not only is he locked out of the marijuana marketplace, but he still has to worry about getting busted by the police.
DeAngelo sees huge potential in California’s legal weed economy and believes the industry could eventually rival Hollywood and Silicon Valley as a major driver of California’s growth. Meanwhile, the biggest concern for underground growers like Trip is that a large corporation or “Big Cannabis” will come in and monopolize the market.