California voters made marijuana legal to purchase and consume, but that hasn’t stopped state and local law enforcement from seizing tons of it from black market growers and retailers.
By the end of 2019, agents at the California Bureau of Cannabis Control alone had seized nearly 24 tons of illicit cannabis, valued at nearly $133 million.
The haul is less than the amount of marijuana the California Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies destroy in a typical a year — the CHP alone in 2018 seized more than 80 tons of cannabis — but it reflects a growing emphasis on disrupting the black market by the state departments California created after voters legalized marijuana in 2016.
Black market cannabis operators made an estimated $8.7 billion in 2019, according to a forecast from BDS Analytics and Arcview Market Research. By comparison, the legal market made an estimated $3.1 billion.
The president of the United Cannabis Business Association, an industry trade group, called black market cannabis “without question the single most pressing issue facing the state’s legal cannabis industry.”
“Every day, unlicensed shops are providing Californians access to untested, untraceable and untaxed products on an alarming scale, threatening the health of consumers as well as the very existence of the legal cannabis industry,” said association President Jerred Kiloh. [Read more at The Sacramento Bee]
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