Medical Marijuana Users Flock Back to Black Market

Minnesota, Colorado experiences expose truths about legal medical, recreational marijuana 

Remember how pro-marijuana groups said that the legalization of marijuana would destroy the black market? Remember how they touted that legalization would bring tax monies into our economy and provide $40 million to Arizona schools (which, by the way, then prompted The Arizona Republic to respond and debunk this claim, calling it an outright lie).

Well, it looks like they were wrong. In Minnesota, medical marijuana users have gone back to the black market because the cost of legal marijuana is too expensive.

The AP reports:

Five patients told The Associated Press that the restrictions have made medical marijuana too expensive, and insurance doesn’t cover any of the costs. They reverted to buying marijuana on the street.

Furthermore, “…the return to illegal sources underscores some broader problems for Minnesota’s program…Faced by stout opposition from law enforcement, state leaders approved one of the nation’s most restrictive guidelines: Leaf products aren’t allowed and the range of qualifying conditions is narrow.”

In Colorado, no such restrictions exists – which is why more than 29 percent of college-aged adults (18-25) used marijuana in 2013, compared to the national average of nearly 19 percent (Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area).

The Marijuana Policy Project, the leader in marijuana legalization efforts, touts the same information on how regulation will limit the black market. They claim “Regulating marijuana will reduce crime, not increase it… Marijuana is a significant source of income for individuals and groups involved in other criminal activities… Regulating marijuana…would eliminate this income source and, in turn, eliminate the violence and turf battles associated with the illegal marijuana market,” (Effective Arguments for Regulating and Taxing Marijuana).

And yet, here is Minnesota with a thriving black market because marijuana users don’t want to play by the rules.

As for the economy, consider this:

Total marijuana tax revenue (medical and recreational) for FY2015 comprises 7/10 of 1 percent (0.7%) of Colorado’s total general fund revenue. (Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area).

As special interest groups in Arizona gain steam in their efforts to legalize marijuana for recreational use, we may be better served by looking to other states who have already gone down this path. It appears that in those cases, the black market has not just vanished like a puff of smoke, as promised by those pushing the ballot initiative. There will always be a demand for lower prices and less regulation, and as of late, the payoff has been dismal.  Is the “potential” worth the risks?

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