With the recent full-throttle decriminalization of cannabis in states like Nevada, the question must be asked: does weed legalization fuel black markets for weed in other states? Or rather, are black market dealers taking weed cultivated in states where it is legal to do so, and then shipping it out to states where it isn’t? According to law enforcement, the answer is a solid “yes.” According to activists and legislators, not so much.
Black Markets on the Rise?
According to Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, legalization isn’t a way to put an end to the underground cannabis trade. Citing a bust this past June in which law enforcement busted a 74-person drug ring which had, according to the estimation of prosecutors, produced roughly $200,000 worth of tax-free pot for the past four years.
“Those of us in law enforcement kept saying, ‘(Legalization) will not stop crime. You’re just making it easier for people who want to make money. What we’ve done is give them cover,’ ” Coffman recently told USA Today.
Law enforcement agencies have gone on the record to express similar sentiments. As a report authored by the Oregon State Police argued, legalization has provided an effective means to launder cannabis products and proceeds, where in essence, actors can exploit legal mechanisms to obscure products’ origin and conceal true profits, thereby blurring the boundaries of the legal market and complicating enforcement efforts.”
Despite this stance expressed by police agencies, the data seems to argue differently. As per USA Today:
“Less marijuana is crossing the U.S. border, according to the U.S. Border Patrol. The agency’s marijuana seizures dropped by almost half between 2011 and 2016, falling from 2.5 million pounds to 1.3 million pounds.
Agents were hesitant to speculate about what caused the drop, but during that time U.S. consumers increasingly began buying domestic pot.”
In other words: the black market overall…