VANCOUVER — As Californians go to the polls on Tuesday night, they won’t just be deciding the future of marijuana in their state — the vote may also rattle the booming B.C. bud industry.
Californians will vote on Tuesday during the midterm elections on Proposition 19, which would allow adults 21 and older to have up to 28.5 grams of marijuana and to grow pot at a private residence in a space as large as 25 square feet for personal use.
If the law passes, B.C.’s illegal pot industry — which generates between $3-billion and $7-billion a year — could take a big hit, says Darryl Plecas, a criminology professor at B.C.’s University of the Fraser Valley.
“One way to look at it is mass layoffs,” he says.
Prof. Plecas, who has studied the effect of B.C. bud for more than a decade, says if California goes green there will be fewer people needed to cultivate the drug in B.C. because the state is a major market for B.C. bud.
With a population of about 36 million, California has been a particularly important market because the further south pot travels, the higher the price it yields, says Prof. Plecas.
Prof. Plecas says a yes vote for Proposition 19 would weaken organized crime groups.
“The single biggest fuel for organized crime in B.C. is grow ops,” says Prof. Plecas. “It’s hard to imagine it could not have some significant impact.”
Longtime pot activist Jodie Emery, who is married to jailed Prince of Pot Marc Emery, says the underground marijuana economy helps drive “cannabis tourism” to B.C. and keeps unemployed workers from the sagging forestry sector busy growing pot.
Despite Proposition 19’s potential smack to B.C.’s economy, Ms. Emery says she supports Proposition 19.
Marc Emery is serving a five-year prison term in the U.S. for mailing marijuana seeds south of the border.