Black Market Booming in California
According to a new survey commissioned by California-based weed delivery platform Eaze, the black market is red hot.
One of their in-depth surveys on the high cost of legal cannabis sheds some light on how many people are still buying herb the way they have always done prior to legalization.
Other than financial reasons, the survey does not delve too deeply into the reservations people have about buying legal weed, such as the violation of HIPAA laws that data mining of medical marijuana users causes.
According to the survey, “A significant portion of California consumers who still purchase cannabis from unlicensed sources are satisfied with those sources and are not incentivized to change.”
“Nobody buys from the dispensaries in California,” says former California-based cannabis cultivator Hilary Clarkson.
The survey also finds that nearly 1 in 5 consumers (18 percent) have purchased from an unlicensed source in the past three months; 85 percent of those are completely or very satisfied with their purchase experience; 84 percent of those consumers are highly likely to purchase from the same unlicensed source again.
The study, conducted by New Jersey-based Marketview Research, concluded that 10 percent of the respondents surveyed consume non-recreational cannabis in California. Considering only 1,419 people were interviewed, it is more likely that the figures -and the people those figures represent -are much higher.
Some say that growers in California are being railroaded. They are being squeezed out by canna-corporations. Stamping out independent growers goes against the ethos that has been deeply ingrained in cannabis culture for decades before the canna-corporations came along. Simply put: not everyone who smokes pot or “consumes cannabis,” as it has been corporately rebranded, wants to drink the marijuana marketing Kool-Aid.
Clarkson witnessed farms that have been in families for generations put out of business by Prop 64.
“Legalization destroyed a whole culture that was built over decades. People who had generational farms were crushed. Kids who have grown up as farmers now face unemployment. Should they go work at Starbucks?” asks Clarkson. “Farming is such a healthy lifestyle and canna-corporations have destroyed it.”
Proponents of legal marijuana claim that it is mold free. Unless a consumer has access to a lab to spot check their cannabis, the way raves in Europe used to have on-sight MDMA pill testing, consumers will have to take a corporation’s word for it.
“I have a mold allergy, and I have been smoking hydro daily, delivered by bike messenger for over 20 years. No ill side effects to report yet,” said a pot smoker in Los Angeles.
Let us say for argument’s sake that more expensive legal weed is mold-free; it is not pesticide free. (Ziggy Marley is an advocate for pesticide-free herb.)
More cons of buying legal weed: It costs more; it is putting a choke hold on independent cultivators in California; the taxes are high; registering for a medical marijuana card violates patients’ privacy; medical marijuana cardholders are not allowed to own a firearm; the list of complaints goes on.
Legal weed has harmful impacts on the environment as well.
“Legal cultivators are required to take their plant waste and mix it with 50% non-plant waste such as dirt, soil, leaves and other compost. Then it gets put into trash bags, and it goes in a dumpster, to be compliant with the current regulations,” said Wil Ralston, President of SinglePoint.
Throwing cannabis farm refuse into non-biodegradable trash bags is a ridiculous way of disposing of the compostable material.
For now, if canna-corps want to win over more California consumers, they will have to come up with higher incentives than claiming to curb mold.
“The new laws are actually feeding the black market, and it snapped right back!” says Clarkson. “Even before legalization, it was legal to sell two ounces in California. Now, by making it illegal to purchase outside a dispensary, they want $300 to $420 an ounce. The going rate is $100 an ounce anywhere for cash in Cali, so legalized dispensaries charging three to four times as much for medicine is just criminal.”