Let me preface all of this by saying that I know a lot of you like your dealer. They are cool, they have great quality, they bring it to your house and blaze up with you while you watch Adventure Time. All of that is great. As long as none of that involves infringing on the rights of anyone else, I say make a day of it. Those transactions should not be criminalized in any way.
But many – myself included – do not like the black market and would move to an alternative if there were one. When I want a steak, I don’t call some guy to see what he has and hope he has t-bones this week. And if he does, then go to his house or wait for him to bring my steak to my house in a sandwich baggie. I go to a store where there are lots of different steaks, all in stock and wrapped nicely with all the pertinent info typed on the label. If I have a question there is usually someone wearing a bloody apron nearby that can tell me all about the steaks I’m looking at.
If worst comes to worst and I just don’t like the steak vibe at store #1, I can go many other places that sell steaks. You get my point by now, I’m sure. Millions of us are ready for a legal marijuana market. We’ve been ready…for a while. We want choice and quality and good prices and the leisure of not having to look over our shoulder for the law every time we buy an ounce of plant matter.
And as I’ve pointed out before, the only way for the legal market to flourish and create the kind of choice and competition needed is for it to undercut and drive out much of the black market.
All things being equal, most people would rather buy marijuana legally. It’s getting to the “all things being equal” part that is the problem. A lot has to be accomplished before legal cannabis businesses can compete with illegal dealers on things like price, quality, variety, etc.
“The first and most important thing any state can do is regulate cannabis, and the federal government needs to pass legislation allowing states to do so without federal interference,” Morgan Fox, the Media Relations Director for the National Cannabis Industry Association, told The Marijuana Times. “You can’t compete with the illicit market if there is no legal alternative. It is also important to make sure that the taxes are not so high as to incentivize the illicit market. States and localities are largely responsible for this, but the federal tax code creates huge problems for cannabis businesses as well by not allowing them to deduct normal business expenses.”
And so far, against tough odds, the legal cannabis market is growing at an incredible rate. “Legal cannabis businesses are already doing a great job of competing with, and replacing, the illicit market by having a variety of reliable, tested, quality products that are available at safe public locations with regular business hours,” Morgan told us. “However, the regulatory and tax burdens do make it difficult for many businesses to set prices that can compete with the illicit market and keep them financially stable, so it is vitally important for people in the industry to get involved politically and work to address the issues that create undue burdens on them at the local, state, and particularly the federal level.”
It will take some time for the legal market to get established, and while that’s happening don’t be surprised to see dozens of “the black market is still around despite legalization” stories from clueless mainstream pundits – and even from some in the cannabis community. The legal market has a massive natural advantage over the illegal one; it just has to be allowed to flourish.