19 Won't End Blackmarket

“We’re seeing more and more of the marijuana cultivated in California being exported where there is a market that will pay more,” says Bill Ruzzamenti, a former special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration who now heads a regional agency that monitors drug trafficking in California.

Ruzzamenti says the pot cultivation boom in California began soon after voters legalized medical marijuana 14 years ago. Now, he believes, California could be a net exporter of the drug.

“Literally, we have had shipments of marijuana from California seized in all 50 states,” Ruzzamenti says. “And they’re going to where they can maximize their profits.”

The surging demand for California-grown marijuana is good news for some growers and bad news for the drug war. But the trend could challenge a key goal of Proposition 19 — wiping out the illegal drug trade.

NPR’s Wednesday Morning piece speculates that the black market will continue to thrive even if 19 passes.

Here is a link to the audio. http://www.npr.org/v2/?i=130832710&m=130851888&t=audio

Here is a link to the written piece. Both help fill out the story.

“With taxation and regulation happening at a county or city level, there could also be a race to whichever area has the friendliest rule,” says Business Weeks’ article, Reefer Sadness for Pot Farmers. Then says Jonathan Caulkins, a co-author of the Rand Study,

…there would be a “honeymoon” period of several years when production would ramp up as California product began to push out inferior Mexican pot across the country.

But then the article adds,

Once that happens, you could have “a real change in industry structure,” according to Caulkins. Growers would have to professionalize their operations and become even more industrial-scale to squeeze out smaller margins of profit. In such an environment, people probably won’t make the $150,000 or so Jason says he clears every year, and “mom and pop” farmers will be wiped out. Jason is planning ahead. “You wanna go up top and walk through them fields of glory?” he asks. “If you can grow twice as much, you’ll make the same amount of money, even if the price is half.”

Nobody has the magic answers.  Nobody knows what will happen.  Even with the best experts offering their best information, neither the media nor local growers know how  legalization is going to change economics here.



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