Why Illinois Recreational Cannabis Just Exploded the US Black Market
Distance makes the heart grow fonder, or so they say, and with the state of Illinois approving recreational cannabis, the distance for cannabis consumers to get great black-market products just got a whole lot shorter.
As regular readers of Cannabis.net know, the “Weed Cannonball Run” was a dangerous journey for drug smugglers to undertake, usually starting in Southern California and going all the way to major metropolitan centers with hungry weed buyers, like New York City and Boston. In the past, drivers would stuff cars and vans with hundreds of pounds of marijuana and then literally take their future lives in their hands as they tried to drive 500 pounds of high quality cannabis grown on the West Coast to black market buyers in East Coast cities. These dangerous trips included having to cross over and through very unfriendly cannabis states like Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and Nebraska. Not to mention any southern course changes to go through Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.
Well, times are changing, and Illinois just make the Weed Cannonball Run much easier, must more friendly, and much shorter. If Chicago is the center of America, a hub in the middle of America for flights, commerce, trains, and transport through the Great Lakes, then Illinois just became the hub of black-market cannabis travel runs and planning.
Why is recreational cannabis in Illinois so big for the entire US black market? Start here:
Illinois has close to 13 million people, with Chicago having close to 3 million of those 13 million people. The state also borders on big farming states like Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. This creates a great atmosphere for not only hemp and cannabis grows, but also consumers in a large city where you won’t be crossing a state line.
The lower part of Illinois, or the southern part of the state, is farm country and college kids at the University of Illinois. There is a large immigrant population that lives and services the southern part of the state by working in produce, farming, and commerce. The southern part of the state, where the farmland and industry are located, is not nearly as prosperous as the northern part of the state and Chicago.
What does this have to do with anything?
You have a perfect test tube set up that will encourage a huge indoor and outdoor black market and since Illinois is located directly in the middle of America on Rt 90, you now have a 20-hour Cannon Ball Run ride to the West or East coast.
Illinois is the perfect black-market marijuana hub, let’s check the checklist:
Low Income and low wage rates in the southern part of the state
Immigrant families and workers who are used to farming and cropping
Easy access with multiple roadways and entrance points to Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, and Wisconsin. Driving a car from Chicago to New York city takes just over 12 hours, compared to driving a car from Southern California to New York City which takes 44 hours. This cuts down on risk by thousands of percent and allows you to drive through cannabis friendly states almost all the way there.
Chicago enjoys a history of organized crime and running illegal operations and black-market cannabis, much like Vegas legalization, would be no big deal in the grand scheme of history. Been there, done that, most people looking to capitalize on black market price arbitrage would say.
Huge farming swaths across multiple mid-West states that could be used for hemp or cannabis, or both.
A very pot friendly governor who is much more interested in state tax revenue from full legalization but a pot friendly governor none the less has trickle down effects with law enforcement, district attorney’s, and public opinion.
Low housing costs in the southern part of the state, as we have seen in Colorado and California, the “renting a house to turn into a full cannabis grow” will be alive and well in southern Illinois where economically depressed areas and landlords would love to see people renting houses and industrial space.
High tax rates on legal cannabis, 33.6% as we documented on day #1, will certainly encourage people to at least investigate and ask questions to friends and neighbors about getting their “stuff” from a friend or friend of a friend at 50% of the cost of a legal dispensary.
Illinois is strategically located in the middle of the country, has a major shipping and economic hub in the northern part of the state, and has migrants works and farmland in the southern part of the state. Because is it is centrally located and is already a shipping hub of America, cannabis black and grey markets will thrive in warehouse space, house rentals, industrial spaces, and even outdoor grows in non-winter months. The culture and history are also in alignment for a strong black market as Chicago was a bootleggers’ paradise during prohibition.
If you mix is all up and shake it out, you have 8 or 9 key elements needed for a thriving black market and underground cannabis shipping network. Shipping times and risks are mitigated by deliveries to either coast being 15 hours or less, no longer 40-hour daredevil rides.
You may see black-market prices dropping around the country over the next 24 months as legal, and illegal, pot operations ramp up in Illinois. Pent up demand is showing as legal sales in Illinois topped $ 5.3 million over the first 48 hours of legal recreational cannabis sales, and that is with lines of hundreds of people and wait times of over 2 hours to get to a counter spot to order at a legal dispensary. With being grown in almost every neighboring state, law enforcement will have a tough time distinguishing legal from illegal in traffic stops and they will be stretched pretty thin if they even want to enforce marijuana policy over 58,000 square miles that make up the entire state.
We have argued in previous articles on Cannabis.net that California approving recreational cannabis in November of 2016 was actually more important to the cannabis movement then the other big question on the ballot, Trump vs. Clinton. If California had failed to pass the recreational bill, and with Trump and Jeff Sessions taking office, we may be a weed-world of hurt right now. We still stand by the fact that California, the 3rd largest GDP in the world if it was its’ own country, legalizing recreational cannabis was the most important event in creating cannabis legalization in America, but Illinois approving recreational will turn out to be a strong 2nd place on the events in history time line.
It is a perfect black-market stew that will be serving all of America within 24 to 36 months.