Legal Weed, Broken Promises: A Times series on the fallout of legal pot in California

Cannabis plants grow on an illegal farm. (Brain van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)


California’s legalization of recreational cannabis in 2016 ushered in a multibillion-dollar industry estimated to be the largest legal weed market in the world. But many of the promises of legalization have proved elusive.


A surge in illegal cannabis

Illegal cannabis farms are engulfing parts of California and exploiting farmworkers who labor in squalid, deadly conditions, a Times investigation finds.


A Times analysis of satellite imagery suggests California’s efforts to encourage cannabis growers into the legal market are foundering.


Corruption and conflicts

Commercial cannabis resulted in corruption and questionable conduct that has rocked local governments across California, a Times investigation found.


Illegal dispensaries

The success of illegal cannabis shops and the struggles of legal ones in the heart of L.A.’s Eastside offer a stark illustration of how California’s legalization of marijuana has gone wrong.


California’s legalization failures

Years after California legalized cannabis with Proposition 64, some supporters say it has not met expectations, while those who opposed the initiative say it has proved worse than they feared.


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California’s social equity promise

The promise of ‘social equity’ has been a key narrative tied to California’s legalized pot industry. So far, efforts have been mired by costly delays.


A legal pathway to clear convictions falls short

More than 30,000 Californians are stuck with felonies, misdemeanors and other convictions on their records that should have been wiped ‘automatically.’

Despite a 2018 law that required the state to clear cannabis convictions, many counties have moved at glacial speeds. Some superior courts haven’t fully processed a single case, The Times found.