Why The Black Market For Weed Is Still Thriving In California

Why The Black Market For Weed Is Still Thriving In California

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Small-scale, veteran growers like Jason Fleming could be shut down by bureaucracy before they sell a single nug on California’s new legal weed market.

Recreational marijuana became legal in California in January, but the state already had a 22-year-old medical marijuana industry that outlined a legal route for patients to purchase pot for licensed dispensaries. But how the weed got from growers to those dispensaries was shrouded in what can only be described as a very grey area.

The Medical and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act changed all that — now growers must be licensed and have their wares tested in a lab, which means a much higher overheard and a licensing backlog. To stay in business, some growers have turned to the state’s resurging black market, fueled by consumers who can’t bear the brunt of new taxes as high as 45 percent.

“I get a lot of black market clients that I never had before, asking me to do stuff on the black market now,” Fleming told VICE News. “Do I want to do it? No, it’s not what I want to do. I want to stick to the legal market.”

So far, Fleming has complied with licensing law by purchasing a growhouse for $25,000 a month and filled out all of his paperwork. But Sonoma County has kept him waiting for local approval for six months. Without that, he can’t start growing — or making any money.

As chief of CalCannabis, the state agency that licenses medical and recreational cultivators, Richard Parott is familiar with stories like Fleming’s. He told VICE News that he’d heard about backlogs of applications with local authorities. But there’s not much he can do.

“The state doesn’t have any purview over the locals,” he said.

So far, Fleming has complied with licensing law by purchasing a growhouse for $25,000 a month and filled out all of his paperwork. But Sonoma County has kept him waiting for local approval for six months. Without that, he can’t start growing — or making any money.

Richard Parrott is the Chief of CalCannabis, the state agency that licenses medical and recreational cultivators. He’s familiar with stories like Jason’s and told VICE News that he’d heard about backlogs of applications with local authorities. There’s not much he can do though.

“The state doesn’t have any purview over the locals,” he said.

By: Cerise Castle, Vice

1 COMMENT

  1. Be careful what you wish for. Yes I’m glad weed is finally legal. But….rules regs. And greed for all that cash is making this seem almost as bad as when it was illegal. The” Man” wants control of our sacred herb. Duh!!! It’s all about the money. At least they are not trying to pretend it’s about a gateway drug and all that crap.

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