MediterraneanGrocery Wholesalers in Los Angeles, CA

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The Largest Selection of Wholesale Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Products in Los Angeles

When it comes to trying new, exciting cuisine, few foods hit the spot like a deliciously fresh Mediterranean meal. However, we know that it can be very difficult to find authentic Mediterranean grocery wholesalers in Los Angeles, CA. Having lived in metro Atlanta for years, we realized that our customers needed an easy way to find quality wholesale Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food in bulk. That is why we created Nazareth Grocery Mediterranean Market - to give everyone a chance to enjoy tasty, healthy food, desserts, and authentic Mediterranean gifts at wholesale prices.

Founded in 2009, Nazareth Grocery has become one of Los Angeles's leading international wholesale grocery stores. We are very proud to serve our customers and do everything in our power to give them the largest selection of high-quality wholesale goods available.

If you're looking for the freshest, most delicious Middle Eastern wholesale products and ingredients, you will find them here at the best prices in the state. We encourage you to swing by our store in Marietta to see our selection for yourself. We think that you will be impressed!

The Nazareth Difference

At Nazareth Grocery Mediterranean Market, our mission is simple: bring you and your family the largest selection of wholesale Mediterranean products in Los Angeles. When coupled with our helpful, friendly staff and authentic Middle Eastern atmosphere, it's easy to see why we are the top Middle Eastern grocery wholesaler in Los Angeles, CA. We're proud to carry just about every kind of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern product that you can think of, from prepared meals and hookahs to fine seasonings and sweets. We're here for our customers and want each one of them to have a unique, one-of-a-kind experience when they shop with us.

Our loyal customers love our selection of the following wholesale foods and gifts:

  • Fresh Breads
  • OlivesOlives
  • HummusHummus
  • CheesesCheeses
  • SaucesSauces
  • Savory-FoodsSavory Foods
  • DessertsDesserts
  • DrinksDrinks
  • HookahsHookahs
  • TobaccoTobacco
  • SaucesGifts
  • Much More!Much More!

Our Service Areas

Most Popular Wholesale Mediterranean Foods

There is so much more to Mediterranean food than pizza and pasta. The perfect climate combined with delicious foods and amazing wine makes the Mediterranean incredibly irresistible. That's why our customers absolutely love to buy this kind of cuisine in bulk. Every country in this region has its own set of specialties and delicacies, each with its own flavors and styles of preparation.

Mediterranean countries include:

  • France
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Turkey
  • Syria
  • Egypt
  • Israel
  • Libya
  • Morocco
  • Tunisia
  • Spain
Mediterranean Grocery Los Angeles, CA

So, when it comes to the most popular wholesale Mediterranean products in Los Angeles,
what are we talking about?

 Mediterranean Supermarkets Los Angeles, CA

Feta Cheese

Feta cheese is a classic Mediterranean dairy product that is often enjoyed on its own, in Greek salads, on bread, or mixed with zucchini. Depending on where the feta is sourced and produced, the cheese can be made from cow, sheep, or goat milk, or even a combination of the three. Regardless of the animal it comes from, this delicious cheese is a crowd favorite.

 Mediterranean Grocery Store Los Angeles, CA

Baba Ganoush

This Levantine dish is one of the most well-known Mediterranean dishes to eat in the United States. It typically comes in the form of a dip, served with pita or another kind of dipping bread. Commonly served before dinner as an appetizer of sorts, it usually features tahini, eggplant, garlic, spices, and sometimes yogurt. This tasty cuisine works great as a spread on a sandwich, or you can even eat it with a spoon, all on its own.

 Middle Eastern Grocery Los Angeles, CA


If you have never tried authentic baklava before, get ready to have your mind blown. This dessert is a traditional Mediterranean food that will have your taste buds craving more and more. Once you open a box of baklava from our Mediterranean grocery wholesaler in Los Angeles, CA, you won't want to stop eating! Baklava is made with layers of thin filo dough, which is layered together, filled with chopped nuts (think pistachios), and sealed with honey or syrup. Baklava is so good that its origins are debated, leaving many wondering which country invented the dessert. Everyone from the Turks to the Greeks and even Middle Easterners hold unique takes on baklava. Try each one to discover your favorite!

Most Popular Wholesale Middle Eastern Foods

Fresh, healthy, aromatic, rich: it's no wonder that the popularity of Middle Eastern cuisine and products has skyrocketed in the United States. This genre of cuisine features a large variety of foods, from Halvah to Labneh. If there were one common theme throughout all Middle Eastern food, it would be the bright, vibrant herbs and spices that are used. These flavorings help create rich, complex flavors that foodies fawn over. Typically, Middle Eastern food is piled high for all to eat, with enough food for an entire republic to put down.

 Mediterranean Food Stores Los Angeles, CA


This refreshing, healthy dish is chock-full of greens, herbs, tomatoes, and bulgur (or cracked wheat), creating a memorable, bold flavor. This dish may be eaten on its own or paired with a shawarma sandwich or helping of falafel. It's best to buy your ingredients in bulk to make this dish because it tastes best freshly made with family around to enjoy. Just be sure to bring a toothpick to the tabbouleh party - you're almost certain to have some leafy greens stuck in your teeth after eating.

 Middle Eastern Market Los Angeles, CA


We mentioned shawarma above, and for good reason - this dish is enjoyed by men and women around the world, and of course, right here in the U.S. Except for falafel, this might be the most popular Middle Eastern food item in history. Shawarma is kind of like a Greek gyro, with slow-roasted meat stuffed in laffa with veggies and sauce. The blend of spices and the smoky meat mix together to create a tangy, meaty flavor that you will want to keep eating for hours. For western-style shawarma, try using beef or chicken. For a more traditional meal, try using lamb from our Middle Eastern grocery distributor in Los Angeles, CA.

 Greek Grocery Store Los Angeles, CA


Traditionally used as a dip meant for fresh pita, hummus is a combo of chickpeas, garlic, and tahini, blended together until silky, smooth, and creamy. You can find hummus in just about any appetizer section of a Middle Eastern restaurant menu. That's because it's considered a staple of Middle Eastern food that can be enjoyed by itself, as a spread, or with fresh-baked pita bread. Hummus is also very healthy, making it a no-brainer purchase from our grocery store.

Benefits of Eating a Mediterranean Diet

If there's one diet that is most well-known for its health benefits, it has got to be the Mediterranean diet. In 2019, U.S. News & World Report listed the Mediterranean diet as No. 1 on its best over diet list. This incredible diet has been cited to help with weight loss, brain health, heart health, diabetes prevention, and cancer prevention.

Whether you already love Mediterranean food or you're looking to make some positive changes in your life, this "diet" is for you. Eating cuisine like Greek food, Persian food, Turkish food, and Italian food is healthy and tastes great. Even better than that? At Nazareth Wholesale Grocery, we have many staples of the Mediterranean diet for sale in bulk so that you can stock up on your favorites at the best prices around.

So, what exactly is the Mediterranean diet?

It is a way of eating that incorporates traditional Greek, Italian, and other Mediterranean cultures' foods. These foods are often plant-based and make up the foundation of the diet, along with olive oil. Fish, seafood, dairy, and poultry are also included in moderation. Red meat and sweets are only eaten in moderation, not in abundance. Mediterranean food includes many forms of nuts, fruits, vegetables, fish, seeds, and more. Of course, you can find at them all at our wholesale Mediterranean grocery store!

Here are just a few of the many benefits of eating a healthy Mediterranean diet:

Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

Reduced Risk
of Heart Disease

Many studies have been conducted on this diet, many of which report that Mediterranean food is excellent for your heart. Some of the most promising evidence comes from a randomized clinical trial published in 2013. For about five years, researchers followed 7,000 men and women around the country of Spain. These people had type 2 diabetes or were at a high risk for cardiovascular disease. Participants in the study who ate an unrestricted Mediterranean diet with nuts and extra-virgin olive oil were shown to have a 30% lower risk of heart events.

Reduced Risk of Stroke for Women

Reduced Risk
of Stroke for Women

In addition to the heart-healthy benefits of a Mediterranean diet, studies have shown that eating healthy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods can reduce the chances of stroke in women. The study was conducted in the U.K., which included women between the ages of 40 and 77. Women who stuck to the Mediterranean diet showed a lower risk of having a stroke - especially women who were at high risk of having one.

Benefits of Eating a Mediterranean Diet

First and foremost, purchase your Mediterranean and Middle Eastern wholesale foods from Nazareth Grocery - we're always updating our inventory! Getting started on this healthy, delicious diet is easy.

Try these tips:

Try these tips


Instead of unhealthy sweets like candy and ice cream, try eating fresh fruit instead. It's refreshing, tasty, and often packed with great vitamins and nutrients.


Try eating fish twice a week, in lieu of red meat. Fish is much healthier and doesn't have the unfortunate side effects of red meat, like inflammation.


Try planning out your meals using beans, whole grains, and veggies. Don't start with meats and sweets.


They're tasty, but try to avoid processed foods completely.


Instead of using butter to flavor your food, use extra virgin olive oil instead. Olive oil contains healthy fats and tastes great too.


Try to get more exercise and get out of the house. The Mediterranean lifestyle is an active one, best enjoyed in the beautiful sunshine when possible.

Why Buy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Products Wholesale?

Buying wholesale and retail are quite different. When you buy products from a wholesaler, you're essentially buying from the middleman between a retail establishment and the manufacturer. Wholesale purchases are almost always made in bulk. Because of that, buyers pay a discounted price. That's great for normal buyers and great for business owners, who can sell those products to profit. This higher price is called the retail price, and it is what traditional customers pay when they enter a retail store.

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 Middle Eastern Store Los Angeles, CA

Latest News in Los Angeles, CA

Can’t visit all of our 101 best California experiences? Don’t miss the top 10

This is part of “California 101,” our guide to the best experiences across the state.What separates our favorite travel destinations from the rest? The way memories linger.I hope you’ll get out to every spot on the 101 best California experiences list, which celebrates just how much there is to see an...

This is part of “California 101,” our guide to the best experiences across the state.

What separates our favorite travel destinations from the rest? The way memories linger.

I hope you’ll get out to every spot on the 101 best California experiences list, which celebrates just how much there is to see and do here. (Print out our checklist in color or in black and white.) But if you’re looking for a short list — maybe you want to give visitors a taste of this state without involving the Hollywood sign — I’ve picked 10 places that resonate most deeply for me. This is the list that, after having covered California travel, nature and culture for more than 30 years, I find myself reciting most often.

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I feel a certain depth in these places, and usually ease too, perhaps because nobody needs to sell them. You show up, take a deep breath, listen a little, have a look around, and you are reminded of your good luck — our good luck — in calling California home.

1. Emerald Bay State Park, Lake Tahoe

I’ve been here three or four times and it’s always been gorgeous, but never the same way twice. On the most recent visit, last fall, I got up early to shoot sunrise photos, steered through bursts of rain to Inspiration Point above the bay, then watched the clouds part. The sunbeams came flooding in, the bay began to glow and a rainbow arched above. The scent of wet forest hung in the air. At that moment, besides me, there were two families at the point and some of the kids were dancing around in the tiny parking lot. I looked at the parents and they looked back in silent triumph. Nobody wants to get up early in the rain, but sometimes it pays off big.

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L.A. County coronavirus cases rise to new risk level, sparking concern

Los Angeles County hospitals are once again seeing a marked increase in the number of coronavirus-positive patients requiring their care — triggering new concern that healthcare systems could once again come under strain unless the region gets its arms around the latest resurgence of the virus.The case rate in the nation’s most populous county is now high enough to land it within the “medium” COVID-19 ...

Los Angeles County hospitals are once again seeing a marked increase in the number of coronavirus-positive patients requiring their care — triggering new concern that healthcare systems could once again come under strain unless the region gets its arms around the latest resurgence of the virus.

The case rate in the nation’s most populous county is now high enough to land it within the “medium” COVID-19 community level outlined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reaching this category, the middle on the agency’s three-tier scale, “is concerning, since it could signal that the increases that we’re seeing in our COVID cases may soon put pressure on our healthcare resources,” said county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

Fourteen California counties are now in the medium community level, but L.A. is the only one in Southern California. The others are eight of the nine counties in the San Francisco Bay Area (the lone exception is Napa County), the coastal counties north of the Bay Area, as well as Santa Cruz County and Yolo County, home to UC Davis.

So far, no California counties are in the worst, “high,” community level. Getting to that point would require not only an elevated level of coronavirus transmission, but for hospitals to begin seeing significant impacts from COVID-19.

“To avoid moving to the high community level, which signifies very high transmission and stress on the healthcare system, residents, workers and businesses need to not shy away from reinstating or adhering to safety practices that are known to reduce transmission,” Ferrer told reporters Thursday. “This includes indoor masking, testing when people are sick, exposed or gathering, and staying up to date on vaccinations.”

As of Wednesday, the number of coronavirus-positive patients hospitalized countywide was 379. While still significantly lower than many other points in the pandemic, the census has jumped by 42% just in the last week.

Many of those patients aren’t necessarily hospitalized for COVID-19, though. Earlier this week, county Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly said most of those who were are hospitalized with a positive coronavirus test within the county’s public hospital system were there for some other reason — such as a heart attack or stroke — and happened to incidentally test positive upon admission.

However, an increase in hospitalizations, Ferrer said, is “an important reminder that, for many, getting infected with COVID-19 does pose a serious risk. Our hope is that as more people take advantage of the protections that continue to be offered by vaccinations and boosters, the daily deaths will remain low.”

So far, COVID-19 deaths remain stable, at about seven a day countywide.

Moving into the CDC’s medium community level does not trigger any new countywide health measures. Reaching high, however, would bring the return of a universal public indoor mask mandate — the likes of which hasn’t been in place since early March.

Even though a face covering requirement hasn’t been on the books for more than two months, county health officials have consistently strongly recommended residents mask up indoors while in public as an extra layer of protection against coronavirus transmission.

One setting in which Angelenos are still required to wear face coverings is public transit, including buses and trains, or indoor transportation hubs, such as airports.

That requirement was formerly in place nationwide, but was voided by a federal judge in mid-April. Since then, aside from a few days after the court order, L.A. County has kept its own local requirement in place.

Ferrer had said the county order would be reassessed when community transmission falls back to the moderate level, when the CDC determines transit masking is no longer necessary, or in 30 days, whichever happened first. The first two criteria haven’t been met, but with the 30-day deadline just around the corner, she indicated it’s likely the requirement will remain in place for now.

“It would really be at this point, I think, foolhardy to not extend those protections,” she said. “We need to do everything we can to stay out of ‘high,’ I’m just going to be honest. Nobody here wants to see us move to any categorization that could possibly cause stress on our healthcare system or result in more people getting sick or dying. I think we all share that common goal.”

Assuming transmission remains at present levels, L.A. County would enter the high COVID-19 community level if it recorded 10 or more new coronavirus-positive hospital admissions weekly for every 100,000 residents. Despite recent increases, the county’s rate is still about one-third of that.

The county could also be assigned to the high category if at least 10% of its staffed inpatient beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients over a weeklong period. That share is presently much lower, at about 1.7%.

Officials have long noted that the pandemic has plotted a predictable, if painful, path — with increases in new infections triggering corresponding rises in hospitalizations a few weeks later, and in deaths a few weeks after that.

However, the typical connection between cases and hospitalizations has been more muted this time around. Though cases have been climbing steadily for weeks, hospitalizations have until just recently remained at some of the lowest levels ever recorded.

But unless the trendline reverses, officials say it’s likely just a mathematical reality that hospitals will have to care for more patients.

In L.A. County, officials have reported an average of nearly 3,400 new cases per day over the last week — a level not seen since mid-February, when the region was still on the downslope of last winter’s Omicron surge.

According to a Times data analysis, the county is now reporting 233 weekly cases for every 100,000 residents, high enough to clear the bar of 200 the CDC has set for the medium community level.

Test positivity remains low, but has been creeping upward. Over the last week, that metric has risen from 2.6% to 3.5% in L.A. County.

“The task in front of us is similar to work we’ve had to do at other points over the past 2½ years: Slowing transmission,” Ferrer said. “We know what works — masking, testing and vaccination, along with systems and policies that support the use of these and other effective safety measures.

“If each of us takes advantage of the good access we have to these effective resources, I’m hopeful that we can slow transmission again, prevent strain on our healthcare system and protect each other.”

Areas in the U.S. with a high COVID-19 community level include New York City; counties that are home to Detroit, Long Island, N.Y., Honolulu and Milwaukee; large swaths of New Jersey, Delaware and New England, including Boston; northern and eastern Pennsylvania; and all of Puerto Rico.

While they haven’t ordered a new mask mandate, officials in New York City warned that “pressure on the healthcare system is increasing” and urged seniors and others at high risk of severe COVID-19 to avoid gatherings and wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings.

It’s possible that New York City offers a preview for what L.A. County can expect, but it’s also true that “the East Coast took off their masks before we did, and seem to be doing a lot less masking than we’re seeing around here,” Ferrer said.

“We know that masks work. We’ve seen it over and over and over again. Our hope is that with the encouragement that we’re providing, the easy access to high-quality masks at work sites, that people will go back to putting those masks on while transmission is high,” Ferrer said.

Officials have said the the dramatic rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in New York City is being fueled by BA.2.12.1, one of a family of Omicron subvariants spawned in the wake of last winter’s surge.

Last week, there was some hope that the circulation of other Omicron subvariants, like BA.2.3, were essentially capping the rise of BA.2.12.1 in L.A. County.

But data emerged this week that the latter is making up a growing share of L.A. County’s infections. As of the last week of April, it made up more than one-quarter of analyzed coronavirus cases.

It’s also becoming clear that it is possible for those infected over the winter to become infected again with a different Omicron subvariant. One high-profile recent example is Savannah Guthrie, the NBC “Today” show co-anchor, who tested positive for the coronavirus in January, and then again just before Mother’s Day.

“That’s the problem that we have with a virus that mutates both so easily and with a lot of capacity to actually look very different,” Ferrer said.

In the case of dramatic mutations, she said, the immune system “no longer recognizes that new strain as something that [it is] already familiar with, and that’s why we see reinfections.”

Ferrer said she is hopeful L.A. County can avoid hitting a high COVID-19 level if residents take steps to reduce risk, like wearing masks, getting up to date on vaccinations and boosters, testing when appropriate and gathering in well-ventilated areas, such as outdoors.

She is also offering recommendations that don’t go as far as those of New York City.

“We’re not suggesting that people avoid gatherings, but we are suggesting that people gather with a lot of safety layered in,” Ferrer said.

Tips include wearing masks in indoor settings and getting everyone tested right before gathering if older people or people with underlying health conditions are present — or if people attending have frequent contact with older or vulnerable people.

“Please don’t be shy about telling people you’d like them to test” before a gathering, Ferrer said.

Op-Ed: California’s economy may seem healthy. But just wait for the next recession

The California economy may seem healthy on the surface, with home prices soaring, Silicon Valley booming and the state government posting big multi-year state budget surpluses thanks to a massive surge in capital gains tax revenues and income tax revenues from tech stocks.But that good news masks a dangerous period ahead.In fact, California’s heavy dependency on tax payments from the rich and on the continued strength of the tech economy makes the state highly vulnerable in the event of a significant slowdown — or, ...

The California economy may seem healthy on the surface, with home prices soaring, Silicon Valley booming and the state government posting big multi-year state budget surpluses thanks to a massive surge in capital gains tax revenues and income tax revenues from tech stocks.

But that good news masks a dangerous period ahead.

In fact, California’s heavy dependency on tax payments from the rich and on the continued strength of the tech economy makes the state highly vulnerable in the event of a significant slowdown — or, worse yet, a full-bore global recession. According to Jim Doti of the A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Forecasting at Chapman University, the probability of a recession starting late this year or next is very high.

Property prices are already beginning to drop in parts of the Los Angeles area. Similarly the IPO market, a major source of capital gains, is retrenching. Financial setbacks for the wealthy are problematic for the state because the top 1% of income-earning Californians pay 46.2% of all personal income taxes.

We’ve been here before. After the last recession ended in 2009, it took the state five years to get revenue from income taxes back up to pre-downturn levels. During those five years the state received about $50 billion less in revenue than if the recession had not occurred, and government was forced to cut programs by about $45 billion to compensate, according to the California Franchise Tax board.

Today, the state is even more reliant on tax revenues from its wealthy elites: Capital gains collections have increased roughly fivefold since 2010. Income taxes, mostly from the very wealthy, which barely constituted one-third of state revenues in 1980, now make up two-thirds.

A new recession, or even simply a slowdown, would place California in a very difficult position, particularly given that it continues to engage in what CalMatters columnist Dan Walters calls “an expansionist binge” of ever greater social spending and housing subsidies. Despite strong annual budgets, California suffers the highest debt of any state — $507 billion. It is projected that the cost of servicing the state’s debt in 2022 and 2023 will be approximately $8 billion annually and could grow even higher as interest rates rise.

California’s pension obligations to its employees are, by some measurements, the nation’s highest.

Much of the state’s vulnerability reflects changes in its economy. In previous recessions, California benefited from a more diverse economy, which included aerospace, agribusiness, energy and a broad manufacturing sector. This time, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s vainglorious assertion that the state is “roaring back” from the pandemic has been very narrowly focused. He’s largely referring to Silicon Valley.

Even before the pandemic, California was already severely underperforming rivals like Texas, Washington, Arizona and Utah in such areas as construction, manufacturing and professional and business services. Job growth in so-called innovation industries outside Silicon Valley and, to a lesser extent, San Diego has been negligible, including in the L.A. area, despite hiring by firms like Amazon and the buzz of “Silicon Beach.” What job growth there has been is concentrated in low-end professions, as in the Inland Empire and Central Valley.

California now suffers the nation’s fourth-highest unemployment rate and has experienced one of the slowest job recoveries from the pandemic of any state. It has the nation’s highest cost-adjusted poverty rate and among the highest levels of income inequality.

Critically, California’s domination of the tech economy may be weakening. Meta, the Silicon Valley-based parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has reportedly leased 33 floors in downtown Austin, while Apple, based in Cupertino, continues to expand in the Texas suburbs. Texas is also where Tesla is building its new factory. Elon Musk’s plan to purchase Twitter means that firm may also end up moving there from California.

California likely will continue to lead in tech but in diminished form. The Comptia “CyberState” report projects that California will not make the top 10 states for tech growth by 2030, a list dominated by places like Utah, Texas, Florida and North Carolina. In 2019 Texas actually passed California in creating new tech jobs.

Meanwhile, more tech workers will probably move out of the state as their employers agree, post-pandemic, to let them work from home indefinitely. They’ll seek cheaper, safer, less congested areas.

It’s worrisome, to be sure. Yet the current economic crisis also creates opportunities, if California is willing to seize them. For example, the current drive toward reshoring — bringing American companies’ manufacturing and services back from overseas — has created enormous opportunities. Consider Intel’s decision to invest $20 billion in a massive new computer-chip-making facility outside Columbus, Ohio. (Computer chips are overwhelmingly made in East Asia.)

If California could adjust some of its policies that are deemed hostile or too costly by employers, the next big Intel plant, or something similar, could locate in, say, south Los Angeles, Fresno or Riverside, where there are underutilized, trainable workforces. Keeping production here would help maintain California’s tech economy and create opportunities for Californians other than the financial and engineering elites.

This is also a strategic issue. Firms that do not manufacture their own products often find that they lack the ability to innovate and compete. As two Harvard researchers have demonstrated, when production moves away, innovation often follows.

Energy and the environment sectors also could play to California’s advantage. The state’s leadership, for example, in electric car design could be leveraged to expand auto manufacturing in the state. Right now, most battery production takes places in Nevada, the Midwest and the South.

The Russian crisis and ongoing economic competition with China create expanded opportunities for California to tap its vast store of natural resources, including natural gas and food production. As long as we are still using fossil fuels, it would make economic sense to tap energy here, creating high wage jobs — rather than import it, at great cost, from Russia or the Persian Gulf. (It would also be less harmful to the environment to have fossil fuels extracted and refined where environmental standards are higher.)

The war in Ukraine is also a reminder that California needs to reinvigorate its military industries, which still generate some $40 billion in annual contracts.

And while we already have a significant space industry employing approximately 24,000 people, it shows signs of moving out of state. We must not abandon what is likely to be a critical industry of the future.

California can survive, and even thrive, amidst a recession. But only if it develops a strategy that doesn’t depend on a few companies and the ultra-rich. The state’s current approach is fundamentally unsustainable, but its potential to succeed — and restore California’s dream — has never been greater.

Joel Kotkin is the presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University. Marshall Toplansky is a clinical assistant professor of management science at the Argyros School of Business and Economics at Chapman University.

Editorial: Sure, reduce pot taxes. But California needs bigger fixes to its broken marijuana market

More than five years after Californians voted to legalize marijuana, the vast majority of pot sold in the state still comes from illegal sellers. To help the floundering legal market, Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed tax relief in his ...

More than five years after Californians voted to legalize marijuana, the vast majority of pot sold in the state still comes from illegal sellers. To help the floundering legal market, Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed tax relief in his May budget revision designed to reduce pot prices for three years and help struggling farmers and dispensary owners.

Newsom wants to eliminate the cultivation tax, a flat per-pound fee paid by cannabis farmers, that has gone up each year even as wholesale prices of marijuana have gone down, squeezing profits. That’s a good move, though there’s no guarantee it will result in significant price cuts for consumers. Still, the cultivation tax is poorly designed and ends up hurting small farmers who try to play by the rules.

It’s also a smart, small step toward fixing the state’s marijuana mess that was created, in part, by Proposition 64 — the 2016 ballot measure that legalized the adult use and sale of marijuana. Legalization came with political compromise on taxes and rules that have stymied efforts to move illegal pot operators into the legal marketplace.

Newsom’s proposal would raise the 15% excise tax on marijuana sales to 19% in 2025, which officials estimate will bring in enough revenue to make up for the loss of the cultivation tax. During those three years, the state would spend up to $150 million annually to support programs that rely on marijuana tax revenue, including youth education and substance abuse prevention, environmental cleanup of illegal cannabis farms and law enforcement. It’s important to not starve those programs while the state tries to stabilize the legal market.

Newsom’s proposal is not a done deal. Proposition 64 required a two-thirds vote by the Legislature to make significant changes to marijuana laws. Industry groups argue Newsom’s proposal won’t reduce taxes enough to help legal operators compete with the tax-free illicit market, and they’re lobbying to cut the excise tax from 15% to 5%. That would be one of the lowest excise tax rates among states that have legalized recreational use. (California, like many other states, also charges sales tax on purchases. Local jurisdictions can levy their own taxes on cannabis businesses. So, the tax burden would still be significant, even if the excise tax was reduced.)

But tax cuts alone won’t solve the state’s marijuana market mess. There are other major factors that continue to prop up the black market.

Two-thirds of jurisdictions still ban marijuana-related businesses, as allowed by Proposition 64’s promise of local control. That doesn’t mean people aren’t selling or buying marijuana in those communities — they’re just doing it illegally, using unlicensed shops or dealers. Newsom wants to create a $20.5-million grant program to help cities develop licensing programs and start to permit pot shops.

Local officials have to acknowledge that refusing to recognize a now-legal industry is only encouraging illicit operators and exposing consumers to untested and unregulated products. In early 2020, authorities seized marijuana vape cartridges from illegal shops in Los Angeles that contained a dangerous additive blamed for an outbreak of deadly lung illnesses.

State and local regulations also make it far too hard to get a license. California’s quasi-legal medical market is decades old, yet the restrictions, costs and hurdles of getting licensed have kept some longtime operators from joining the legal market. In some cases, applicants have to rent space before they can file for a license and have to complete lengthy environmental analysis for a storefront. When businesses do get licensed, they face layers of regulations and restrictions that can be expensive and impractical, such as the state’s 10 p.m. curfew on retail shops and delivery services, particularly when the market is saturated with illegal pot.

To help level the playing field for licensed businesses, the state also needs to ramp up enforcement against illegal operators through strategies such as tax enforcement, administrative penalties and power shutoffs.

High taxes are hurting legitimate pot businesses, and some temporary relief is needed. But the state needs comprehensive reform to save the legal marijuana market.

Once-trampled (and secret) Grove of Titans redwood stand in Northern California reopens

After the once-secret location of a famed grove of ancient redwoods in Northern California was made public, visitors flocking to see the towering trees caused significant damage looking for the off-trail behemoths.Now, a new 1,300-foot boardwalk through the Grove of Titans will give visitors a chance to see the old-growth redwoods, many reaching 300 feet tall, without threatening the forest’s fragile ecosystem.The path, which is elevated around the grove, opened Saturday and will provide year-round access from the newly r...

After the once-secret location of a famed grove of ancient redwoods in Northern California was made public, visitors flocking to see the towering trees caused significant damage looking for the off-trail behemoths.

Now, a new 1,300-foot boardwalk through the Grove of Titans will give visitors a chance to see the old-growth redwoods, many reaching 300 feet tall, without threatening the forest’s fragile ecosystem.

The path, which is elevated around the grove, opened Saturday and will provide year-round access from the newly realigned Mill Creek Trail in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in Del Norte County.

“People had been walking off-trail to access the Grove of Titans,” said Erin Gates, deputy superintendent for the Redwood National and State Parks’ North Coast Redwoods District. “So we realigned the trail so that people could meander through the grove without putting a single footprint on the ground.”

The location of the grove had been kept secret since the park was established in 1929, but finding it became a popular quest after researchers came across the stand of trees in 1998 and named it the Grove of Titans. Although the researchers did not disclose its location, adventure enthusiasts began searching for the grove, Gates said. In 2011, a website posted the GPS coordinates of the Grove of Titans, opening the floodgates to visitors who carved new paths for a glimpse of some of the world’s largest trees, damaging the forest floor and jeopardizing the shallow roots of the redwoods.

“When the location was shared online, that’s when a large majority of the resource damage began,” Gates said. “It wasn’t just people in the dozens, it was people in the hundreds and people in the thousands.”

Gates said one tree in particular was repeatedly trampled by visitors who climbed around it, killing the lush ferns that had once hugged its base.

“I’m actually looking at that tree right now,” Gates said prior to the ribbon-cutting for the new trail on Saturday. “Ferns are shooting up from the base where the vegetation had been stripped.”

The $4-million project included realigning three miles of Mill Creek Trail, creating the elevated boardwalk through the grove and restoring what was damaged. The conservation nonprofit Save the Redwoods contributed more than $2 million to the project, with the remaining funding coming from a state parks bond, in-kind contributions and Redwood Parks Conservancy donors.

Gates said trail builders hand-carried 128 tons of construction materials and tools to the site to ensure there was no additional damage during the construction. Crews replanted ferns and other understory plants damaged by visitors. The newly opened trail includes exhibits and signs on the indigenous history of the area developed with the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation, whose ancestral lands encompass the Grove of Titans.

“This has created new opportunities for people to experience the beauty and power of nature,” said Sam Hodder, president and chief executive of the Save the Redwoods League. “It inspires a sense of stewardship and restoration in the redwood forest that we can protect and restore moving forward.”


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