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Now the cellophane packaging of the late 1990s has given way to labels that resemble those of any supermarket food item. Legalization opened the door for more aggressive marketing and easier information sharing, and these forces naturally foster a more standardized environment.
Over time, even if California maintains its semi-resigned commitment to laissez faire, market forces will eventually drive more dispensaries to engage the services of third-party services such as testing laboratories. "When liability becomes a real issue for all these businesses, they'll be testing everything like every food company does today," Martin says. "They want to make sure that they have data in-house to prove that their product was leaving their shelves clean."
Government regulation would surely hasten this process. But the move toward greater transparency, more information, and an emphasis on product safety and consumer empowerment has been animating California's medical marijuana industry since its inception. As legislators and industry advocates alike insist that legal marijuana requires detailed codes and regulations and high-level governmental coddling, California's experience suggests otherwise. In the wild, wild west, at least, reefer madness proved no match for the domesticating influence of capitalism.