Why Colorado’s Black Market for Marijuana is Booming 4 Years After Legalization

Article by Briar Stewart, CBC News

Why Colorado's black market for marijuana is booming 4 years after legalization Marijuana grown in Colorado, the land of legal weed, is being smuggled out to states where it is still illegal Briar Stewart · CBC News. Criminal organizations have moved into Teller County, a community of 24,000 nestled in the Rocky Mountains about 160 km south of Denver, and are illegally growing marijuana there that they smuggle out of state. The sheriff's office in the county says it has 400 kilograms of marijuana sitting in storage as evidence. (Teller County Sheriff)

When recreational marijuana went on sale in Colorado in 2014, the government’s goal was to regulate and tax a drug that was already widely used and to squeeze out dealers and traffickers in the process.

But law enforcement authorities in the state say legalization has done the exact opposite.

Even though there are more than 500 recreational marijuana dispensaries in the state, the black market is booming. It’s being driven by criminal organizations that grow weed in Colorado and smuggle their crop into states where it is still illegal and can be sold for a much greater profit.

The black market hasn’t gone away within the state, either, because some marijuana users are deterred by the higher dispensary prices and are loyal to their long-time dealers.

Investigators say the illegal trade has flourished because the state laws around growing marijuana were overly generous in the beginning and hard to enforce.

As Canada prepares for legalization, CBC News spoke to insiders to get their perspective on why the black market is thriving in a place where pot is legal.

The DEA

Investigators with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) focus on the largest and most serious drug trafficking rings operating in the United States.

Paul Roach, a DEA supervisor, says his team spends about 15 per cent of its time on marijuana trafficking cases — a threefold increase from before legalization.

Read the full article here.

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