Marijuana legalization makes black market weeds cheaper, heroin more expensive
When states began “experimenting” with legalizing marijuana, lawmakers, state officials, and everyone else were excited to see how the sale of legal weed would develop.
On one hand, the naysayers wanted to judge whether the socio-economic cost of legalization was worth the taxpayer money that the market would surely drive into state and local coffers. At the same time, proponents were waiting for a moment when they could show the nation that a legitimate pot market would not lead to a drug addicted society. Years later the results were mixed.
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However, a new study in the journal Addiction Try to shed some light on recreational marijuana legalization. In particular, it shows what to expect with illegal drug markets in states that pass marijuana recovery laws, and it’s interesting to say the least.
For starters, fully legal marijuana that is subject to government regulations and taxes seems to make black market pot products more affordable. The researchers found a 9.2% decrease in the price of street weed in places where marijuana recreation laws are on the books. In some cases, the lower quality buds experienced a 19.5% drop in price. The “prediction,” as the study calls it, is that legalizing marijuana will create less demand for black market weeds and therefore lower prices.
However, real life tells us that legalization fuels the black market in many ways. This is especially true in states like California, where the number of illegal pot operations is still higher than the number of legal ones. The legitimate market has also increased black market deals across state lines. Prosecution in prohibited states continues report more Increase in marijuana attacks steadily.
Cannabis advocates say the black market won’t die – at least not until legalization spreads further.
“You will never eliminate [the illicit market] until most of the states are legal, “said Adam Smith of the Craft Cannabis Alliance in Oregon told Politico in 2019. “As long as half of the country can’t get it legally, there is an illegal market for it.”
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Another implication of the study is that the drop in prices is related to the rise in domestically grown cannabis, which has drastically reduced the need for criminal organizations to smuggle it from foreign countries. However, an increase in domestic production does not necessarily mean that criminal organizations have rejected marijuana, although researchers believe it could eventually happen. This only suggests that pot production and distribution on US soil is now logistically more solid. As Smith pointed out, there is still a market for illegal cannabis in most of the country. Criminal cannabis producers (and yes, that includes cartel operations) are going nowhere.
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Federal legalization of marijuana would help. Although it wouldn’t force prohibition states to change their pot laws, it would make it easier for them to do so. As we have learned from the fall of the alcohol ban, it can take time for every state to adapt.
The trick is to get pot consumers to visit the legal market instead of buying it from illegal sources. A current report The Nevada Appeal suggests that the black market in the southern part of Silver State is still generating $ 20 million in tax-free income. On a positive note, the busts of illegal growers have decreased significantly. According to reports, the Las Vegas Metro suspended eleven black market growth operations in 2020, compared to 111 in 2013.
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Some believe the key to throwing a wrench in the illegal pot market is keeping taxes down. In New York, about 18 months after the new recreational marijuana scene started, cannabis advocates believe the tax rate will be low enough to prevent the black market strong from running. Even so, illegal weeders say they will carry on.
Oddly enough, researchers found that the legalization of marijuana appears to be affecting the heroin market as well. The data shows that the strike sold on the street in legal marijuana states is 54% stronger than in prohibited areas. Of course, the potency boost has increased prices by 64%. However, prices for other hard drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine have not risen similarly. Just heroin.
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All in all, researchers aren’t sure what legal weed has to do with heroin, but they believe there is a strong correlation and they are excited to learn more.
“Our exploratory results suggest that the illicit drug markets may not be independent of the legal regulation of the cannabis market,” said lead author Dr. Angélica Meinhofer said in a statement. “As more states move towards legalization and additional data becomes available after the RCL is implemented, we need to do more research to determine whether recreational cannabis laws are causing these changes in the illegal market and what will happen over the long term.”