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Is Black Market Weed Safe



Canada and 24 US states have legal recreational marijuana. Forty states have medical marijuana available, yet for some, it is not enough. The cannabis black market is thriving while hurting the newly legal market and confusing consumers. As a customer, you need to know if black market weed safe.

A study commissioned by the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association found that after reviewing cannabis products from 20 illicit stores in New York City, about 40% contained harmful contaminants such as E. coli, lead and salmonella. This is prior to the boom of more than 1,500 unlicensed dispensaries. Consumers are paying premium prices for something which may not agree with their body.

RELATED: California or New York, Which Has The Biggest Marijuana Mess

While it’s an issue in states like Colorado, Michigan, and Washington, it’s a much bigger problem in New York and California. It is a major drag on the young legal industry and a potential danger to consumers.

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Canada was forward thinking about started a campaign early in legalizaiton to convince consumer to purchase from authorized dispensaries.  Here is the information Manitoba shares with the public:

If you buy cannabis, make sure to get it from a licensed retail store that offers a wide selection of legal products.

Street, or black market cannabis offers you no quality control in terms of strength or purity. It may contain traces of pesticides and even other drugs that could put your life at risk.

When you support the black market, you have no idea whether or not your money will go to fund other illegal activities. Buying cannabis from a black market supplier puts you at risk of arrest and fines.

WIth the black market, it is important to understand the supply chain.  Step one is the growers. Currently, there is a significant number of indoors grows which increase the cost of the plant.  California’s growers are losing money to illicit grows both indoor and outdoor because it is just cheaper.  The state is doing anything to crack down and there is zero oversight to insure quality or grow techniques.

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The other two segments are “the guy”. Some people find it easier to use their “guy” who hooks them up. They acquire product – both legal and illicit and then sell directly to the customer.  No taxes, no oversight, no verification for what is in the product.

Two big issues for consumers are inconsistent potency levels which means you don’t get high enough or you get too high. The other is unsanitary processing and packaging, which can directly effect your body and body functions.

While California has some of hte highest taxes of the industry, their enforcement is dismal. Colaroda and Maine have some of the best with dwindle black markets. With over 50% of the US having to legal weed, state governments to reaccess taxing and enforcement is order to

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What To Call The Illegal Marijuana Market




A grey market or parallel market is the trade of a commodity through distribution channels not authorized by the original manufacturer or trade mark proprietor. Grey market products (grey goods) are products traded outside the authorized channel. The phrases and process helps make it appear more legal than the black market.

In talking with industry notables, there is definitely a push from a minority to slow roll legalization and reframe the black market as a “perfectly ok” option to the average consumer.  Both New York and California have huge black or illegal markets.  New York’s botched rollout of licenses has made a legal market of about 85 dispensaries and over 2,000 unlicensed ones selling both legal and illicit products to the public.  California crushing taxes and non existent enforcement has allowed unauthorized grows to florish.  The rumor is these grows have quiet sold to legal producers to make products to help battle the costs.

RELATED: How To Be Discreet When Using Weed

Most traditional media, data analysts and legitimated investors and executives refer to it as the black market. Having a thriving black market hurts both the legalization process and legal businesses. Colorado and Maine are two examples of states who have done a great job to shrink the illicit market. While immediate short term there could be profits, in the long term, it chokes the growth and mainstreaming of cannabis for both recreational and medical use.

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The Reason People Are Buying Black Market Weed




Legal marijuana is becoming more and more accessible. Still, in countries like the U.S. and Canada, where there are legal markets in place, black market marijuana sales remain consistent. According to a new survey, the #1 reason people are still buying black market weed is price. It is crushing California and other states should see it is a big warning.

The survey, conducted between 2019-2020 and published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, polled 12,000 cannabis users in Canada and the U.S. and found that price outranked convenience, which is the second main reason people continue to opt for illegal weed.

A 2016 referendum legalized recreational use in California. A goal to eliminate illegal sellers, regulate the substance for safety, and raise tax for the state. The first dispensaries opened in 2018. But the licensed stores have not dented the size of the black market, which has remained steady at around $8 billion a year, according to Tom Adams of Global Go Analytics. The legal business is struggling. In 2022, sanctioned cannabis sales fell 8.2 percent to $5.3 billion.

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Photo by FatCamera/Getty Images

RELATED: California or New York, Which Has The Biggest Marijuana Mess?

According to the study:

In both years, the most commonly reported barriers to legal purchasing were price (Canada: 35%–36%; United States: 27%) and inconvenience (Canada: 17%–20%; U.S.: 16%–18%). In 2020 versus 2019, several factors were less commonly reported as barriers in Canada, including inconvenience and location of legal sources. Certain barriers increased in the United States, including slow delivery and requiring a credit card.

In the United States, black market cannabis sales are one of the principal wild cards in establishing a functioning legal cannabis market. States like California, which were the first to establish legal markets, have allowed the two markets to coexist, something that cannabis workers have called extremely unfair.

Alex Brough is the co-founder of Keneh Ventures, a private equity fund that invests in businesses ancillary to the legal marijuana trade. In an interview with Times Union, he compared a legal dispensary owner who ‘does everything above-book’ to a bootlegger selling cheap, untested weed.

“You don’t know any better, you’re not an industry expert, and you go to California, and you go to get an [eighth-ounce] of chronic at this place for $60, and at this place across the street, they’re selling it for $30,” he explained. “If you’re at all budget-minded, you’re going for the $30.”

RELATED: Illicit Vs. Legal: What Are The Real Benefits Of Buying Weed From A Licensed Dispensary?

States in the U.S. that are establishing new cannabis markets can use previous states as guideposts, allowing for more controlled transitions and accurate predictions of how their legal market would work. Still, cannabis black market sales have existed for decades, with businesses having built relationships with shoppers. Creating a new legal market will take time to build and to earn the trust of new shoppers.

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Big Apple

New York Propping Up the California Marijuana Market





Is it a case of two wrong making a right for consumers? Is New York propping up the California marijuana market?

The  marijuana has been in a world of hurt.  The Golden State continues to step all over itself to deplete a thriving industry. Commercial cannabis sales fell by 8% last year to $5.3 billion, the first decline since it became legal in 2018. And state tax revenue dropped from $251.3 million in the third quarter of 2022 to $221.6 million in the fourth quarter.  Part of the reason is indoor grow costs more and is over produced and it is competing with illegal grows.

The other major reason is the intense taxing system on the cannabis industry without any policing of the black market.  Colorado has been a model for their system of legalized weed and has seen their black market almost vanish.  Executives for once thriving companies have asked Governor Newsom for help. But it has been slow coming and Newsom wants federal legalization so they can export to save the industry without the state having to change.

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Photo by Michael Discenza via Unsplash

RELATED: Trifecta Of Good News For Marijuana Industry

Meanwhile, New York had a fiasco of a recreational rollout and now is embroiled in lawsuits and recriminations. The plus side for consumers is over 1,600 unlicensed dispensaries have opened in New York City selling a wide variety of products.  The state works diligently to shut a few down every week and they even manage to keep them closed for up to 72 hours.

In the spirit of being neighborly, the illegal dispensaries in NYC are using California black market products and also legal products which somehow pop up in retailers.  The made in California seal of approval seems to be popular for consumers in the Big Apple.

Photo by Anton Petrus/Getty Images

The negative for east coast consumers is they are paying a premium for products with some things selling for 50+% more than on the west coast.  And items are quickly building a very robust black market customer base in the Empire State.

“California products are getting to New York in several ways. Some are traditional market products put in fake packaging, but there are also real brands that are being shipped to New York. Sometimes this is done through “burner distros” buying legal products and moving them out of state, and other times I’ve seen things disappear out the backdoor and end up in bodegas in New York” says Jesse Redmond, Head of Cannabis at Water Tower Research.

RELATED: Unlicensed Shops in NYC Are Doing Better Than The Naked Cowboy

Newson’s lack of urgency in addressing the black market (and establishing a healthier system with a steady tax revenue stream) is fueling a boon in New York, but also hampering the slow bureaucrats of New York in fixing the colossal mishandling of licenses.

With the right cast and script, this could be a even better series than PainKiller about the opioid push and Sackler family.


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