Gains, growing pains mark California’s 1st year of legal pot

LOS ANGELES (AP) — It was supposed to be a great year for marijuana entrepreneur Brian Blatz.

When California broadly legalized pot on Jan. 1, the lawyer with a background in banking and health care had been working for a year to set up a trucking company that would whisk fragrant marijuana buds, infused juices and other products from fields and production plants to store shelves.

On its website, Long Beach-based Verdant Distribution said the company’s goal was to be the United States’ pre-eminent business for transporting cannabis.

But it’s all gone. The trucks were sold to cover debt, a warehouse vacated, its license expired.

The choppy rollout of California’s legal market saddled the company with costly delays, but it was undone by an abrupt state rule change that allowed just about any marijuana business to become its own distributor, undercutting the need for stand-alone companies like Verdant.

In California’s emerging market, “the challenges are

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