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Cannabis

California's 'Pot Desert' Problem

Although marijuana is legal in the Golden State, there are still large swathes where it's prohibited.
Image credit: Cultura Exclusive | Ben Pipe Photography | Getty Images
Entrepreneur Staff
Editor in Chief of Green Entrepreneur

California is the largest market for recreational marijuana in the country, but thanks to some loopholes in the law many residents don't have access to it. What's resulted is large swathes of "pot deserts," in which 40 percent of the state has drive 60 miles or more to find a licensed dispensary, according to the Sacremento Bee.

Ironically, the problem lies with the very legislation that made marijuana legal in the first place: Prop 64 legalized cannabis in Cali, but it also gave local governments the power to ban or to regulate it. Guess what many have chosen to do?

Related: California Unleashes a Massive Market for Legal Cannabis

An expose in the Bee analyzed 284 retail dispensaries issued licenses in the state by the California Bureau of Cannabis Control and found:

Related: These 4 States Legalized Recreational Marijuana but Each Is Doing It (or Not) in Its Own Way

Cannabis industry advocates are critical of the ban, saying that it doesn't reflect the will of the large majority (57 percent) who voted in favor of legalization. Meanwhile, local government officials say they need time to sort through their pot policies and that the bans are not permanent.

The good news is that help may be on the way. In April, Democratic State Senator Ricardo Lara introduced Senate Bill 1302, which would permit licensed delivery services to deliver marijuana throughout the entire state. This means that people in rural areas of the state would be able to order marijuana and have it delivered anywhere. The idea being -- if you can't go to it, it will come to you.