Get a pencil: California's marijuana-tracking system delayed


LOS ANGELES (AP) — California's legal pot economy was supposed to operate under the umbrella of a vast computerized system to track marijuana from seed to storefronts, ensuring that plants are followed throughout the supply chain and don't drift into the black market.

But recreational cannabis sales began this week without the computer system. Instead, businesses are being asked to document sales and transfers of pot manually, using paper invoices or shipping manifests. That raises the potential that an unknown amount of weed will continue slipping into the illicit market, as it has for years.

For the moment, "you are looking at pieces of paper and self-reporting. A lot of these regulations are not being enforced right now," said Jerred Kiloh, a Los Angeles dispensary owner who heads the United Cannabis Business Association, an industry group.

The delay of the tracking system is just one sign of the daunting task facing the nation's most populous state as it attempts to transform its long-standing medicinal and illegal marijuana markets into a multibillion-dollar regulated system. Not since the end of Prohibition in 1933 has such an expansive illegal economy been reshaped into a legal one.

So far, it's been an unsteady start.

The state Department of Food and Agriculture, which is overseeing the tracking system, expected it to be functional for the first legal sales Jan. 1. Now it could take months before the system launches.

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