Do you live in a state where marijuana is legal but in a town that has opted out of having dispensaries?
If that’s your situation and you’re a weed connoisseur, then you are more than likely aware of (and perhaps patronizing) the illegal market. In fact, illicit markets thrive in opt-out towns.
And it’s becoming a serious problem.
The Irony of Opt-Out Towns
Any elected official who voted against having marijuana businesses in their jurisdiction thinking they were putting the kibosh on weed in their town is poorly misled.
In letting “other communities” deal with the imagined problems that come with peddling this federally illegal substance, they didn’t stop to consider the impact it would have on the already existing black market. Many of them believed it no longer existed.
This thinking has backfired on them.
As it turns out, the data shows states with more legal, licensed, and regulated stores are far more successful in battling the illegal marijuana market. Meanwhile, states with fewer stores have wonderfully healthy illicit marijuana markets. This is the case even in states that overwhelmingly supported the idea of legalizing it.
While officials who opt out believe this is a vote against marijuana—it’s actually a vote FOR black market dealers.
Welcome to a New Kind of Prohibition
Legalization is great for the economy of the state, the above-mentioned elected officials proudly state, while finishing with “just not in my neighborhood” on the same breath.
But that line of thinking has systematically (and unwittingly) created an economic protection zone for illicit sellers. And it’s not just happening in more red states like Missouri or Virginia.
In California, 62% of municipalities have opted out. As a result, the black market still feeds 55% of the demand or cannabis. In New Jersey, there is only one store for every 358,000 residents. That means the illicit market commands more than 80% of the market. Even in New York, half of all municipalities had already opted out before recreational sales began.
The Clear Picture
Leaders in opt-out towns seem to work with some imaginary form of object permanence. They feel that if they can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. But not permitting stores in a municipality doesn’t make cannabis go away. It’s already circulating in every community in the United States.
With a state-licensed dispensary, under-aged buyers can’t purchase marijuana. Illicit sellers don’t care how old the buyer is. What’s more, black market marijuana hasn’t been tested and could put the consumer at risk. Given the option to purchase safe product from a store over shady weed from a dealer, adults generally shift to dispensaries.
Voting to opt out is also voting to turn away local jobs and tax revenue that could do wonders for the community. And all in the name of fighting this losing war on drugs. Perhaps in the next few years, they’ll wake up.
Are You An Enterprising Cannabis Entrepreneur?
If you’re hungry to open a cannabis business but have the misfortune of living in an opt-out town, you don’t have to let that stop you.
As cannabis marketing and public relations specialists, we can help you get your name on the map in towns that aren’t already saturated with businesses.
Contact us today to find out how we can help YOU.