Cannabis at a Crossroads: a KQED Newsroom Special

From the green hills of California’s largest cannabis cultivation region to the top shelf of one of the state’s oldest medical marijuana dispensaries, Cannabis at a Crossroads takes an in-depth look at a rapidly changing, billion-dollar industry that’s poised to grow even larger.

In January, the market for recreational marijuana will launch in California, allowing adults 21 and over to purchase up to an ounce of the drug without a prescription. But concerns and questions abound as state officials scramble to create a new system to regulate recreational and medical cannabis, while entrepreneurs struggle to innovate and invest in a space governed by a patchwork of local and state policies. At stake for consumers and producers alike is whether cannabis can be kept out of the black market -- where most of it currently ends up.

We go inside the Green Door Dispensary in San Francisco to see how they’re preparing for a new wave of customers and hear from a vendor about the risks and rewards of trying to operate legitimately as cannabis fully exits prohibition.

In Humboldt County, we hear from farmers, entrepreneurs and law enforcement officers about the challenges they face: from the environmental impact of growing marijuana to maintaining high-quality standards, to tracking and tracing where it ends up.

A panel of experts also joins us in studio:

  • David Downs, Cannabis Editor, San Francisco Chronicle
  • Christian Groh, Partner, Privateer Holdings
  • Alison Malsbury, Attorney, Harris Bricken