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California legalized weed five years ago. Why is the illicit market still thriving?

cannabis plants

Despite appearances, the state’s cannabis industry is in disarray as legal businesses struggle to make a profit

Five years after cannabis legalization, California is awash with signs of an apparently booming industry. Californians can toke on Justin Bieber-branded joints and ash their blunts in Seth Rogen’s $95 ceramics. They can sip on THC-infused seltzers, relax inside a cannabis cafe, and get edibles delivered to their doors.

But behind the flashy facade, the legal weed industry remains far from the law-abiding, prosperous sector many had hoped for. In fact, it’s a mess.

Voters passed a law in November 2016 making recreational marijuana legal. But today, the vast majority of the market remains underground – about 80-90% of it, according to experts.

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