In a few days, the use of cannabis in food and cosmetics will be legal [in California]. This will constitute a great change in habits, as well as a huge business at risk of being infiltrated by crime.
Mixing cannabis with alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and fish products will still be forbidden. Instead, it will be possible to make broad use of the substance in the food and cosmetics sectors. There are already marijuana cookies, cakes and ice creams, as well as anti-cellulite creams and lip balms. The chocolate-cannabis combination already has its numerous fans, but candy and other treats that appeal to children may not contain weed. In two days, marijuana will be legalized in California, resulting in a turning point for America’s habits and social norms. It also risks creating new conflicts.
This psychoactive substance, which has long been banned just like all other drugs despite being much milder, has been partially rehabilitated year after year, as some states first declared it legal for medical purposes and later for recreational use as well. However, the U.S. federal government still considers it illegal. Thus far, there have been no clashes because the states that legalized marijuana — Oregon, Colorado, Alaska and Washington — did so to comply with the results of a referendum and because these sparsely inhabited areas are rather small markets, fueled by artisan work.
California, the richest, most heavily populated state, changes everything for the U.S. and maybe for others as well, considering America’s economic and cultural influence around the world. According to research centers, 40 million Californians have already spent $7.7 billion a year to buy weed illegally or for medical use. Now, a boom in marijuana consumption is expected. In Los Angeles, cannabis-based tea parties are already fashionable. In Hollywood, the Standard Hotel is going to open a shop selling marijuana edibles. New small entrepreneurs are emerging, many of whom are women who have played a major role in commercializing weed.
However, big corporations are also on their way, drawn by this huge business, a business at risk of infiltration by crime that cannot be completely prevented by the 276 pages of California rules. The biggest risks concern money laundering: In a country where most of the money is exchanged electronically, bank notes will be the only means to buy marijuana. Banks do not allow the use of their systems for these purchases, as they fear punishment from the central government. The sale of this substance is still a federal crime, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has promised a hard-line approach.