A closer look at the state of CA's cannabis industry: progress vs. ongoing challenges

BySuzanne Phan KGO logo
Friday, April 21, 2023
A look at the state of CA's cannabis industry: progress vs. challenges
While a rise in retail has pushed the California cannabis industry more mainstream, dispensaries are also dealing with lots of taxes as well as a heightened threat of break-ins.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Cannabis users and business owners have seen a lot of changes over the years.

At SPARC dispensary on Polk Street in San Francisco, the 4/20 celebration happens all month long.

A lot has changed in the cannabis industry in California since recreational weed was legalized in 2016.

You'll find many more cannabis stores in San Francisco.

VIDEO: Here's how the Bay Area celebrated 4/20 at SF's Golden Gate Park

The 4/20 celebration at Hippie Hill at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park has drawn thousands of people on Thursday.

"On Polk Street, there are several cannabis stores, several smoke lounges," said Royal Rodriguez.

At SPARC dispensary, there have been some changes to make cannabis more accessible to customers.

"One of the things we've done for retail, we've flipped our store to an open shopping concept," said Robbie Rainin with SPARC. "So it's more of a convenience store-style, you can come in, shop around, grab a basket and touch the product. Try and remove the stigma of cannabis."

In Marin County, Nurit Raphael is CEO and Co-Founder of Ona.life, a cannabis concierge and delivery service.

They've been collaborating and pushing to make cannabis mainstream for a long time.

"We do stuff with urban remedy. We do stuff with yoga studios and pilates studios," said Raphael.

VIDEO: Bay Area cannabis industry leaders concerned for public safety amid string of violent incidents

Cannabis industry professionals say they are "very disturbed" by the continued string of robberies in the Bay Area.

But there are ongoing challenges for cannabis industry folks -- like lots of taxes.

"Taxes are an issue. There's an additional 15% excise tax on top of sales tax. We're an industry that is taxed on top of tax," said Rainin.

And then there have been numerous pot store break-ins.

"One of our neighboring shops, unfortunately, had a car drive through their front window," said Rainin.

Two weeks ago, on April 7, an attempted burglary at a pot dispensary was caught on camera. It happened at 13th Street near Van Ness.

MORE: Marijuana and coffee? New bill could bring cannabis cafes to California

Witnesses heard a loud crash, saw car back into a door, and then people dressed in black hitting the door with sledgehammers and crowbars.

Many Bay Area cannabis dispensary owners say they are fed up with all the robberies and burglaries and they want more protection.

Dispensaries say they have been big targets because they often work with a lot of cash.

Cannabis is still illegal under federal law and bans are hesitant to do business with the industry.

"We are all routing for federal legalization to happen soon," said Raphael.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live