Acres Cannabis, located in Las Vegas, is attempting to decrease and maybe eliminate the cannabis black market in Southern Nevada. Many benefits were espoused to legalize adult-use recreational cannabis in the state of Nevada when measure Question 2 was up for a vote in 2017. Many voters assumed one of the outcomes would be to dry up the cannabis black market.
However, those in the industry, clients, and recreational users (and buyers) discovered that did not happen. In fact, the cannabis black market is not even close to being eliminated.
Las Vegas Fox television affiliate KVVU Fox 5 reported in November 2018 that lower prices is one factor in keeping the cannabis black market profitable. Black market cannabis dealers also can present their sales as legal online when both the product and sale are illegal. Online is a favorite avenue for finding and purchasing black market cannabis.
“We have been busier with the black market stuff [cannabis],” stated Eric Calhoun, a lieutenant with Las Vegas’ narcotics unit when interviewed by Fox 5 on air. He reported that detectives confiscated 457 pounds of illegal THC oil, up 65 percent from the previous year and 300 pounds of cannabis wax, up 60 percent from the year before.
Cannabis grown at home can contain dangerous ingredients such as e-coli or salmonella. Acres Cannabis wants to get the message out that government-approved cannabis is stringently tested for purity and safe for all consumers.
The owners of Acres Cannabis realize price is a deciding factor. A study commissioned by California-based Eaze Solutions reports that 18 percent of people surveyed in California bought cannabis from a black-market dealer even though it is available legally. Of those who purchased black market cannabis, 84 percent responded they bought it illegally due to its low prices and no taxes.
Acres Cannabis is combating the black market problem with its line of Black Market Killer (BMK) offered in 10 different strains. It’s sun-grown instead of an indoor facility cutting the cost to $25 per 1/8 of an ounce. Taxes on the product will still have to be paid to the dispensary, but the price for BMK is planned to be only slightly higher than the black market cannabis. Acres Cannabis is also packaging BMK in generic containers to offer to other dispensaries in Nevada for sale to their customers.
A billboard placed near the Vegas Strip is promoting the brand with the tag line,” Ditch your dealer, stop into a dispensary.”
“Our budtenders tell us that they bring BMK to parties, and keep the fancier cannabis at home for themselves; just like you put your fine bottle of Cabernet on a top shelf and save it for a special occasion,” Mueller said in a New York Post article. “The idea is to put out a product that eliminates poop-weed, as we call it.”
While legalized cannabis is fragmented in the US, Canada dispensaries are also dealing with a black market. While cannabis is legal everywhere in Canada, cannabis is high in demand and short in supply. Many times, dispensaries are closed for days with empty shelves.
Members of the Canadian government believed that users would buy cannabis legally and that segment of the black market would fade. According to The Washington Post, a spokeswoman for the minister in charge of the cannabis file stated that in early reports once cannabis was legalized, there was 65 percent reduction for illegally sourced products.
However, in a national Canadian poll Ipsos conducted for Global News in November 2018, over 1/3 of Canadian cannabis users polled reported that they were still buying from their regular dealers and never purchased cannabis legally. Five illegal sellers in Quebec told The Washington Post their sales are slightly up.
As in the US, price is a factor with Canadian buyers with a report that 54 percent polled, including 67 percent considering consuming small-dose edibles, believe the cost of legalized cannabis is too high.