Since the passage of the Compassionate Care Act in 2014 legalizing medical marijuana in New York, many people would falsely believe that the illicit drug trade had lost its grip on cannabis users. Unfortunately, that is not the case. There are several reasons illegal cannabis will remaining a multi-billion-dollar industry in America, but the underlying cause is always money.
The rules governing whether or not someone is approved to use medical marijuana are stringent. Though many have tried to seek approval, they did not meet the minimum requirements. Some individuals could not afford the high prices of legal marijuana even though they were approved for a medical use card.
While it is true that dispensaries can not place a line-item charge on a customer’s receipt to cover the 7% tax levied by the states, customers still foot the bill due to the cost associated with purchasing marijuana. In essence, the consumer is paying the tax though it may not look like it. After all, businesses must make a profit so in their minds passing the burden onto the customer makes sense.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what the reason is; many patients choose to purchase their “weed” the old-fashioned way, from their local drug dealer. Black market weed is cheaper, and the user doesn’t have to worry about limitations on the amount purchased. As long as you’re able to pay the dealer will sell it to you.
Black market weed cultivation in New York
Across the nation, black market weed cultivation is still a thriving business despite the fact that more than two dozen states have legalized medical marijuana and almost a dozen extended legality to recreational cannabis for adults. New York is no exception. In 2017 approximately 4,500 illegal plants were destroyed, 60 people were arrested, and 42 weapons were seized.
Interestingly, many of these illicit marijuana growths were not found in someone’s basement. Instead, they were located on public use lands. Criminal organizations have the infrastructure to undercut legal marijuana production and still make enough of a profit for it to be worth the risks. Unfortunately for the consumer, unlawful manufacturing often means products that have questionable safety concerns, not to mention the disregard of the damage they do to the environment. To say that illegal growers are less than concerned about the toxic waste discharged into our environment is an understatement.
So, what does all this mean for the citizens of New York? More taxes, of course. The burden to pay for marijuana eradication on public use lands, prosecution of those responsible, environmental clean-ups, and law enforcement measures among many others will fall squarely on the shoulders of the taxpayers. The cost of illegal marijuana does not just hurt the businesses that run legal production companies; they’re here to stay; it hurts the average American.
Black market weed distribution in New York
Many wonder how illegal weed is disbursed around the state. How does it move from the unlawful growth in the woods to the local “pushers” on the street? The answer may surprise you. The same average American who foots the bill for the eradication does the criminal’s work for them, without even knowing it.
There will always be unscrupulous individuals who transport marijuana from one area to another hidden in the panels of their vehicles. However, more often than not, unsuspecting companies are being used. Between 2015 and 2018 more than 1,000 deliveries were carried out between illegal growers in California and Rochester by way of the US Postal Service. In another scam, more than $22 million worth of marijuana was ship via hundreds of FedEx shipments from California to the Bronx and New Rochelle.
These vast conspiracies are unfortunately just a handful of deliveries that we know. But what about the ones we don’t? Though some would question how or who this is hurting, it’s just packaging after all? But let’s think about it from another standpoint. The ability for illegal production to quickly move from one area of the country only influences additional growths. Again, if we look at it from a business perspective, as sales rise so does production. It’s the law of supply and demand.
Black market weed consumption in New York
Again, thinking of illegal marijuana production from any other businesses perspective, the supply of a product is directly related to the demand for that goods or service. In New York, the desire for marijuana or other cannabis-related products is at an all-time high. No longer does the stigma of stoned out pot-heads come to mind when the average person thinks about pot.
Instead, many people have changed their view after learning the medicinal properties of cannabis. Studies have also shown that many Americans now believe that limited recreational use of marijuana is less addictive and causes few problems than alcohol. This change in mindset fuels the public’s desire for cannabis.
New York weed laws
The laws concerning marijuana use in New York are very cut and dry to a certain degree. While the state is currently considering changes to allow for recreational use the opposition is working diligently to prevent this from occurring. At this time, the only form of legal use in NY is for individuals who have been diagnosed with one or moreof a specific set of diseases or qualifying conditions.
In 2018 the state also made a medical exception for individuals who suffer from Opioid Use Disorder or for illnesses that are typically treated with opioids. The hope was that this addition would help slow down the huge opioid epidemic that has gripped the nation.
Although medical marijuana has been approved in other states as well as New York, on a federal level, cannabis is still considered a Schedule 1 Class Drug making it illegal. This complicated issue has inspired those who promote the drug’s medicinal benefits to lobby Congress and the FDA to change the statutes. Unfortunately, even if cannabis or marijuana products are legalized nationwide, wither it be for medical use only or as a recreational drug, black market marijuana doesn’t appear to be vanishing anytime soon.
For more information regarding the Compassionate Care Act or the legal requirements to obtain a medical marijuana card visit the state’s website at Department of Health