When the state of California voted to legalize the production, sale, and use of recreational cannabis in 2016, many assumed that black market cannabis production would be brought to a stand still. Yet, it is now almost 3 years since voters approved Proposition 64 and the cannabis black market in California is thriving. However, the state of California recently announced that in 2019 it has already seized over 1.5 billion dollars of illegal cannabis. The state is continuing to do what it can to interrupt the economic success of the still thriving cannabis black market.
Cannabis Black Market Still Thrives
As California continues to embrace its status as a state where both medicinal and recreational cannabis are legal, not everything has gone as planned. The state’s black market is still a major thorn in the side of lawmakers and cannabis regulators. Many feel that the only way to stop the success of the black market is stringent regulation and unrelenting seizures of illegal cannabis. It was announced recently that in 2019 alone, the state of California has seized over 1.5 billion dollars worth of cannabis from illegal growth and production operations. According to NPR, in the 2019 fiscal year-to-date, “More than 953,000 plants were seized from 345 raided grow sites around the state. Authorities arrested 148 people and confiscated 168 weapons under California’s Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, or CAMP program.”
The CAMP program describes its goal as being the eradication of “large scale illegal marijuana cultivations from public and private lands that cause deforestation, damage to wildlife habitats, pose a danger to our citizens, and release hazardous-chemical pollutions.”
The CAMP program is one of California’s key weapons in the fight against black market cannabis sellers. The only way to ensure the success of the state’s legal cannabis program is to enforce the programs laws harshly and make sure that dangerous and unregulated cannabis products are not being sold to consumers.
The Danger Of The Cannabis Black Market
Illegal cannabis products have been the subject of widespread media coverage in 2019. As the frequency of lung illness related to vaping has increased so has the paranoia surrounding unregulated black market cannabis products. Preliminary reports suggest that many cases of vaping-related lung illness are caused by the inhalation of Vitamin E acetate and other harmful chemicals found within unregulated cannabis cartridges.
Though misinformation has been spread regarding the safety of vaping legally grown, regulated, and lab-tested cannabis, it is abundantly clear that it is untested products that pose the biggest threat to consumer safety. The easiest way to ensure the health of most cannabis consumers is to make certain that every product that hits the market adheres to all regulations and has been lab-tested.
Whatever laws may be enacted there will always be those who attempt to circumvent them. It is key for states like California to be swift and forceful in putting an end to the cannabis black market. Doing so will raise state tax revenues, promote the economic success of businesses operating by the book, and ensure the safety of consumers. The growth of legal cannabis in America does in fact depend on the curtailing of the cannabis black market.
Lane is based in Southern California and is a content curator for Medical Marijuana 411. He focuses his research into finding informative stories that can help medical marijuana patients better understand their diverse medicine.