Who is to blame for the rise of illegal grows in Colorado?
They got us! The argument to end all arguments…sorry folks…we lost…cannabis is evil!
Well, this is what ‘they’ want you to believe. Especially with their “latest findings” that prove that legalization is an ineffective deterrent to black market pot sales. This according to an article written by David Olinger in the Gazette talking about the “unintended consequences” of legalizing cannabis.
The main statistical premise of his argument relates to a 380% increase of black market pot arrests from 2014-2016 in Colorado. It seems that despite cannabis activists claiming that legalizing cannabis will reduce the black market, the data tells us differently.
That’s looking at the particular problem through a selective filter. It’s ignoring many aspects of the dilemma trying to simplify a complex problem and creating a scape goat – legal cannabis.
The truth of the matter is that legal cannabis in the US has had a significant impact on the black market sales and production of cannabis. For starters, some of the cartel operations migrated from the South of the border into legal cannabis states.
The reason being that the quality in these legal cannabis states is far superior than the weed grown in Mexico and the consumer market prefers higher quality bud. To remain competitive and still have a stake in the illegal market, this forced cartels to move their operations within US borders.
Yet still there, they cannot compete with the legal markets within the states. Their only real operational scenario within the cannabis market is to grow weed in legal states and export it to prohibition states where the value of the product increases due to the laws.
You see, the black market cannabis be removed entirely due to the existence of prohibition on a Federal level. As long as there is a place where weed is illegal…someone will break the law to sell it to consumers who want it.
Drug production operations below the border are shifting towards substances like Meth and Heroin due to the loss of profits from the cannabis market. This is proven by the reduction of cannabis seizures at the border between the US and Mexico.
However, there still is money to be made within the thriving Cannabis Industry. Cartels realized that by growing within legal marijuana states and exporting to prohibition states, they can maintain certain profit margins.
Where does the problem lie?
The problem isn’t with legal cannabis. The legal marijuana market is all for the government to find and eradicate cartel operations. Dispensary owners want to play by the rules. Yet the only way that you’d truly be able to shrink the black market to an insignificant factor would be to legalize cannabis across the board.
What this would do is effectively create too much competition for the cartels to handle. Exporting cannabis to other states would be a non-profitable venture seeing that everybody would have access to the plant.
Prohibition in other states is the key factor why the black market is still around and somewhat significant.
Furthermore, if you were to look at the 380% increase of black market pot arrests, it could also be because the police have more resources available to them to pursuit black market operations. You know…because they aren’t harassing consumers anymore.
Either way, the black market can only thrive under the rules of prohibition.
The Legal Industry Likes Rules
Legal Marijuana Businesses don’t like the black market. It undermines the legitimacy of the industry and gives ammunition to prohibitionists to sustain antiquated laws. If cannabis was legalized, business owners would be able to use financial institutions without fear of having their funds seized by the government, would be able to pay their taxes and get their corporate deductions and participate in society like any other legitimate industry.
People are clamoring for a legal framework, both consumers and providers alike. The only people that benefit from the existence of a black market are law enforcement and other industries that benefit from the prohibition of cannabis. But they do this at the expense of the rest of society, putting your safety at risk by maintaining a system that creates a space for cartels to make their profits.
For more than four decades we’ve used guns and violence to squash the drug trade, only to find that every crackdown only increases the street value of the drugs being sold. Perhaps, it’s time to give up on that approach and try something a bit more practical, that provides a wealth of opportunities and benefits to society.
The problem with Colorado’s illegal pot market isn’t legal cannabis, it’s the fact that there is still money to be made where it isn’t legal. Remove this factor and you will most definitely see the black market fade into obscurity.