Ever since California legalized medical marijuana use, the Golden State has seen no shortage of dispensaries. In fact, a new one seems to sprout up every week as more “cannapreneurs” try to cash in on the lucrative – and cutthroat – market.
But unfortunately, not all of these businesses play by the rules.
With recreational use now legal, storefronts endure a painstaking process to attain state licenses so they can bring high-quality flower to the masses. The caveat is they have to charge a noticeable state tax that could have rule-abiding business owners lose customers to the decades-old black market.
Mike Ziegler, a legislative aide to Democratic Assemblyman Jim Cooper, told The Associated Press;
“The black market is having a substantial impact on those businesses that are following the rules,”
Unfortunately, bargain-seeking customers are usually unaware of the fact that they’re shopping at an illegal business, and also unaware of the potentially deadly effects.
Too much too fast
In Los Angeles County, for example, law enforcement currently lacks the manpower to keep up with the overwhelming amount of outlaw dispensaries. Meanwhile, the administration is struggling to deal with an overflow of license applications.
Even if an illegal operator does get raided, it’s usually not long before they’re back in business. California’s laws state that possessing more than 28.5 grams is a mere misdemeanor. As a result, rogue shops are willing to take the risk, getting by on system loopholes until they are taken down.
The black market’s cheap advantage in the industry is not only unfair to legal storefronts but also harmful to the consumer.
Lt. Frank Montez of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department told U.S. News;
“When you have an illegitimate, illegal dispensary operating, that not only hurts the industry as a whole but that really hurts the community,”
Los Angeles is home to California’s biggest local cannabis market, where rogue shops far outnumber the amount of licensed storefronts.
While a lot of shops grow their own product, many of them source from non-local, illegal growers who allow harmful pesticides and chemicals in their products. Customers who bring their business to black market dispensaries don’t even know that the dispensary isn’t legitimate since it’s very easy to feign the look of a licensed shop.
What customers also don’t know is where, exactly, their product came from and what they’re putting in their bodies.
Lt. Montez warns, “People out here on the street are thinking it is a legitimate operation and are smoking this cannabis with all these dangerous pesticides, and they are really killing themselves.”
Do you support a legal dispensary?
If you’re unsure, the most surefire way to tell is if you aren’t being charged taxes. If you don’t already frequent a legal storefront, you might want to think twice about the consequences of going to a rogue shop, even if it means having to pay tax.
Plus, if more people were informed enough to support their legal local storefronts, the widespread regulation would diminish the black market and overall, we’d have an abundance of safe, lab-tested cannabis at our disposal.
By asking for trusted brands at legal dispensaries, you not only ensure that the community (and the industry) thrives, but also prevent the spread of dangerous, illegal cannabis.
Check out some of our favorite pre-rolls, edibles, and vapes to get an idea of what some tried and tested products look like and where to find them.