Some Californians Will Still Buy Weed From Drug Dealers Despite Legalization

A new study has "the plug" remaining employed, even in a post-Prop 64 enacted Golden State.

Legal cannabis for recreational use is big news for California. Per Proposition 64, which voters approved last November, a regulated retail market in the Golden State will begin sales come January 2018. This new model has the price of weed increasing, with the state overseeing the testing, tracking, and taxation of each and every marijuana transaction.

Well, every legal pot transaction, that is. Speculation has stakeholders believing that a black market for illicit cannabis will continue, despite the coming sanctioned weed stores.

According to a study by the University of California Agricultural Issues Center, 29 percent of cannabis consumers will opt to stick to their local dealer, over a regulated retail location, in an effort to avoid additional costs.

Still, it is projected that once legalization regulations are in place, legal use will make up 61.5 percent of the market, illegal purchases will make up 29.5 percent, and medical marijuana dealings will account for 9 percent of the overall state market.

“It’s going to take some time,” Lori Ajax, director of the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation, said to the Los Angeles Times. “While it’s unlikely that everyone will come into the regulated market on day one, we plan to continue working with stakeholders as we move forward to increase participation over time.”

Data gathered from price comparison sites shows that, when put against other weed-legal states Colorado and Oregon, California’s legal cannabis costs more. To be sure, the Golden State shows the largest differentiation between street marijuana prices and legal weed prices. In fact, marijuana bought at dispensaries in California costs 35 percent more than the national average. (National being a relative term, as cannabis laws differ from state-to-state.)

Though recreational weed markets have previously disrupted the already established medical marijuana industries, in other states.

“Revenues for medical cannabis in Washington State, for instance, fell by one-third in the first year after the legal adult-use cannabis system took effect, and by more subsequently,” the study’s authors wrote.

Regardless, the earnings the state is expected to see from legal weed could potentially top $1 billion in tax revenue for state and local governments, and create more than 1,200 jobs, according to the study.

The economic impact legal weed will expectedly leave on state budgets will certainly be felt from SF to LA.