California Marijuana Meccas

A look at which regions, cities could offer the strongest business opportunitie

Some cities and municipalities across California are rolling out the welcome mat for marijuana businesses of all stripes, while other regions are naturally ripe for business opportunities because they have large populations, ideal climates for cultivation or progressive attitudes toward cannabis.
The adjoining map offers a snapshot of key centers expected to take root in the state’s new medical and recreational marijuana markets, according to Marijuana Business Magazine research and interviews with industry experts and consultants in California. Different icons indicate the niche industries likely to operate in each area.

Below is some more information on the business centers that are expected to emerge.

Los Angeles Metro Area:

Los Angeles proper and many neighboring municipalities – such as Long Beach, West Hollywood, Bellflower and Culver City – will be a hot spot for every niche of the cannabis industry. In particular, the metro area will likely be a major hub for retailers, given its population of more than 13 million.

San Diego Area:

The metro area, with more than 3 million people, presents great business opportunities, especially for cannabis retailers. While those options are limited for now – San Diego has authorized a few dozen retail storefronts – the restrictive tone is expected to ease in the not-too-distant future. Over time, industry insiders expect a number of municipalities surrounding San Diego proper – such as Lemon Grove, La Mesa and others – will implement more cannabis-friendly business regulations. Moreover, the county itself is expected to become a hotbed of marijuana-related industry activity.

San Francisco Bay Area:

The birthplace of the modern cannabis industry will be a hot spot as more municipalities open up to cannabis businesses, attracted by the potential tax revenue. Last year, for example, Emeryville legalized medical marijuana retail, delivery and testing labs. Oakland also is one of the most progressive cities in the nation when it comes to marijuana business ordinances.

Emerald Triangle:

Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties have been home to marijuana cultivators for generations, and that’s not expected to change. The area may not be ripe for outside companies to enter, but its longstanding growers will continue to play a significant role in California.

Central Valley:

Monterey County, to the south of San Francisco, and a number of its municipalities will become home to new greenhouse cultivation operations that could rival the Emerald Triangle. The county – as well as a number of towns within it, such as Greenfield and King City – have embraced the cannabis business. Nearby counties may well follow suit in coming years.

Desert Towns:

Smaller towns in Southern California – such as Desert Hot Springs, Adelanto and San Bernardino – are making themselves as attractive as possible to MJ companies to revitalize sagging local economies. Several large growers have made plans to set up shop (or already have) in those communities. But some industry executives believe such towns are too far removed from the L.A. metro area.

Sacramento:

The state capital will be attractive to cannabis businesses for multiple reasons, including a low 4% tax on gross receipts for cultivation and manufacturing. There’s also no cap on the number of MJ business licenses the city may issue. Companies located in the city will be close to the state’s power center and access to the ears of state officials should future tweaks to marijuana-related policies arise. That will likely be particularly attractive to investors and ancillary firms such as lawyers.