America’s Boom in Illegal Weed

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Legalization has meant nearly every part of the market is thriving — including the illicit one

It  seems former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was correct about one thing: Pot legalization has provided cover for criminals, allowing illicit production to thrive. Experts estimate that at least 30 percent of cannabis ­cultivated in legal states is being “diverted” to illicit markets across the country. The biggest problem has been the lure of higher wholesale prices in places where weed is still illegal, which often discourages growers and traffickers in legal states from going legit. Many of the growers that have been skirting the law for years could barely afford the costs of becoming legal even if they wanted to.

“The reality is I’ve been advocating for decades for exactly what’s happening right now,” says Guy Rocourt, chief products officer at California cannabis brand Papa & Barkley, best known for its topical salves. “But is it painful? Absolutely. We are trying to support small farmers who used to make $4,000 to $5,000 a pound selling illegally to New York. Now that a pound in the legal market is more like $1,000, how can they still have profitable farms?”

State governments have tried to make it difficult for legal farms to sell on the illicit market. As part of a compromise with the feds, states had planned “traceability systems” to track every legal cannabis plant from seed to sale. [Read More @ Rolling Stone]

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