Now that we are little over a year into the green light for recreational cannabis in California, there is a lot to celebrate in terms of the revenue, entrepreneurship, the gorgeous new strains, and of course the freedom. As it should be.
The only reasonable complaints is sometimes the prices are higher than you may be used to if you’ve been enjoying flower for a while. The taxes can add up quickly, but at the same time there is the perfect product for EVERYONE now. You don’t have to question the potency of any concentrates or edibles, and all of the other goods like patches, ointments, and pet treats keep getting better. It’s a win overall, right?
Not necessarily for California retailers, though.
In spite of the highly competitive market with stores and delivery services up and down the state, there are a lot of restrictions on state and county levels. Less than 13% of California cities and less than half counties are allowing any commercial cannabis activity as of 2019 (data provided by CannaRegs). On top of that, many municipalities limit the type of businesses they allow, such as testing facilities or medical dispensaries only rather than recreational shops. Most likely these stats will improve over time, but it the current numbers are smaller than you may have thought.
This is great for the black market, which still thrives even when competing against over 100,000 legal companies that operated before 2018. On just the cultivation level, there are nearly 70,000 farms in the Emerald Triangle (the main hub providing for the whole country and world for a long, long time). You can bet most of those are going to stay around regardless. There is such a surplus of flower that it’s going to keep moving, and tax-free is always appealing. When you consider the lab testing requirements that began in Summer 2018, it’s another incentive to sidestep all of that to get large quantities as well.
Renegade farms, are one part of the equation, and who knows how many indoor operations exist. This is probably never going to change, and no one except law enforcement seems to be complaining. All of the wise retailers have done their homework on how to navigate from the medical era to the gray market to the current state, and they are going to keep adapting. So for consumers, it’s great to know where to find quality crop in or out of shops. For retailers, the unlicensed shops are a killer.
Personally, if you want to go the black market route for any reason, I suggest going as close to the source as possible. It helps the people who put in the work and time to grow it, so that’s the best way to show appreciation (it’s not easy). That’s better than helping someone else profit while also hurting their neighboring licensed businesses that are setting a good example in the early stages of recreational business. Another great option is to learn how to grow for yourself, no better time to than now to acquire the knowledge and implement it.