With Commercial Pot on the Horizon, Black Market Fears Grow

With a few months left to go before commercial pot is legalized, signs that Prop 64's final rollout won't go as smoothly as planned abound.

First, there's the underwhelming number of applications local governments are receiving from growers who wish to operate legally. But there's another potential crisis looming: price.

Three years ago, when Colorado began its recreational marijuana program, prices at dispensaries there were significantly lower than the black market, providing an incentive for consumers to join the legal system.

The situation is reversed in California. There is so much pot being grown in California that the wholesale price has been falling sharply in recent years and any pot sold on the legal market in January will have the added costs of taxes, fees and mandatory testing for pesticides and other chemicals.

Tawnie Logan, chairwoman of the board of the California Growers Association, an advocacy group for small-scale marijuana producers, says the black market price for an eighth of an ounce of marijuana is around $20, compared with $50 in dispensaries.

Logan predicts that once the novelty wears off, many buyers will return to the lower priced black market for their cannabis. That would throw a serious monkey wrench in the process.

Will tougher enforcement be the answer?

Read more at the New York Times


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