Ever since the Compassionate Use Act was passed in 1996, there are now over 2,500 California dispensaries. These include various affiliated services and do not only take into account traditional pharmacy type dispensaries. The number is a clear indication of the significant demand for medical marijuana in the state of California. Numerous iterations of the law have been enacted including those which allowed for patients to grow their own marijuana plants in the privacy of their own home.
Critics note that the sheer number of California dispensaries is a testament that the law has failed to reign in and regulate the appropriate use of medical marijuana. They also note that the system has been grossly abused by patients who make false claims of chronic pain in order to secure permission and recommendation from a physician. Arizona touts California’s marijuana laws as indications of systemic failure and vows to never fall into the same quandary that California is in now.
Despite the criticism, the marijuana industry is strong and thriving in California. However, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pointed out that the revenue claims as propounded by greater marijuana legislation proponents have been grossly exaggerated. Last 2010, a vote called Proposition 19 failed to get the required number of votes which would have given greater liberty to growers and consumers of marijuana. To date, chic dispensaries and marijuana wellness centers line the state more than any fast food chain. Dispensaries offer various concoctions of the substance despite still being illegal under the Controlled Substances Act. For now, a lot of Californians are happy with their pot. According to a 2008 San Francisco Chronicle article, medical marijuana boasts of $2 billion dollars in revenue. Quite a significant amount even for the world’s 8th largest economy. Many states are following the lead of California and as of January 2011, there are now 15 states with provisions for medical marijuana usage.