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#HomeGrown: What Colorado and Washington can teach California about legalizing recreational cannabis




Church organizer and founding member Steve Berke of Denver, Colorado checks the ages of some of the first members of the public to visit the International Church of Cannabis in Denver, Co. on April 20, 2017.
Church organizer and founding member Steve Berke of Denver, Colorado checks the ages of some of the first members of the public to visit the International Church of Cannabis in Denver, Co. on April 20, 2017.
Marc Piscotty/Getty Images

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As California prepares to being sales of legal recreational marijuana for adult use on January 1, 2018, both people in the industry and those who watch it know that the state is heading into uncharted territory.

While considerable policy work has been done to lay the foundation for things like tax structure, zoning laws, and enforcement, there are still more questions than answers, and many of those questions won’t be answered until legal sales of cannabis begin in earnest.

The good news is that Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana for adult use in 2012 and have several years of lessons that California will no doubt be using to guide its own legal marijuana policy and deal with issues that have come up in those two states like potency issues with edibles, consumer health and safety, law enforcement dealing with stoned drivers, advertising for cannabis products, and even something as simple as where people can actually consume their legal cannabis. There’s also the issue of weed tourism -- out-of-state residents who show up to purchase and consume marijuana legally -- and the impacts that can have on the economy and on society in general.

So, what lessons can Colorado and Washington teach us about the challenges California may face in the short and long term? What have been the biggest challenges and how have legislators and policymakers worked to solve them? What kind of tax revenue are those states bringing in?

Guests:

Bob Young, reporter covering marijuana for The Seattle Times; he tweets @PotReporter

Alicia Wallace, national marijuana policy and business reporter with The Cannabist at The Denver Post; she tweets @aliciawallace