LONG BEACH (AP) — California’s struggling marijuana market can expect to see a period of continued strain and turbulence for at least a couple of years, as it deals with sustained competition from illegal sales, industry layoffs and fallout from a national vaping crisis, the state’s top cannabis regulator said Friday.

“It’s pretty tough just even for the regulators right now,” Lori Ajax, who heads the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control, said at an industry forum. “These challenges just keep coming at us and to the industry.”

“We are going to continue to see that for the next couple of years,” she predicted.

Ajax’s remarks come at an unsettled time for California’s legal pot economy —at about $3 billion, the world’s largest.

The state’s thriving illegal marketplace, valued at about $9 billion, continues to dwarf the legal one. Cannabis remains unavailable in much of the state, where communities have either banned commercial activity or failed to establish local rules for sales and growing.

The industry has witnessed a round of layoffs at prominent companies that blame slower-than-expected growth, heavy taxation and other financial pressures. State tax collections have fallen far short of initial projections.

Meanwhile, the outbreak of a mysterious illness apparently linked to vaping has sickened more than 2,000 Americans and at least 40 people have died. Most of the cases have involved products that contain the marijuana compound THC, typically obtained from illegal sources.

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