I appreciate honest Plumas commercial cannabis advocates’ desire to “eliminate” the cannabis black market in our county. However, statistics and real-world law enforcement accounts in Colorado and other states indicate that it’s just not happening. In fact, they show that legalization and regulation haven’t even begun to budge the needle toward elimination.
People who operate in black markets—with any product—simply adapt and overcome regulatory attempts. They’re clever and persistent—and aren’t going to stop because of any regulation. Don’t believe it? I invite any local commercial cannabis advocate to research reports from Colorado sheriffs and others tasked with enforcing regulation.
According to the Colorado Department of Public Safety, statistics show that arrests for the production of black market pot increased by 380 percent in the 2014-16 time frame. In fact, Colorado law enforcement agencies say they are “battling a boom in illegal marijuana cultivation by sometimes violent groups of criminals who rake in millions of dollars by exporting what they grow.”
Bigger magnet, bigger problem
When we consider that California produces seven times the cannabis the state can consume, it’s easy to imagine more criminals coming here to cultivate and export product than are doing so in Colorado.
Law enforcement testimony and statistics argue that California cannabis regulation—like Colorado’s, Washington’s and Oregon’s—will do little to reduce black market activity. Those who are willing to break the law for profit will continue to do so.
In fact, some growers in Humboldt County say they won’t be regulated because of the costs, restrictions and headaches involved. They say they’ll continue operating illegally and hope enforcement goes after bigger grows and leaves them alone.
Human nature resists regulation
The notion that regulation will eliminate the black market and make law-abiding citizens out of law-avoiding ones is not proving true in Colorado. Stats and real-world reports from those who are battling to enforce it say otherwise.
Are we to believe that Plumas County would somehow be the glorious exception? Human nature is human nature in any state, county … or on any planet.