People Are Still Buying Pot from Drug Dealers in Colorado
But even though there appears to be a golden legal scenario in Colorado for weed smokers, a black market still exists in the state. On a large scale. Buzzfeed today dove deep into the economics of legalization in Colorado, and found that, for starters, legal growers are dealing with taxes never seen before:
Recreational marijuana comes at a hefty cost for consumers, partly because it now carries a 10% special state tax, plus the usual 2.9% state sales tax and whatever the city tax is, and sometimes even more, if the dispensary includes their own 15% wholesale tax — the recreational pot at Medicine Man was taxed at 36%.
Not including taxes, the shops’ prices are high for a few reasons: a lack of cost regulation within the state, a soaring demand with little supply, and because owners want to try to recoup some of the cash they have dished out in the process of becoming one of the few legitimate “ganjapreneurs” in the world. Colorado has given out 130 licenses so far.
There's also the issue of the steep, steep up-front costs. It's really expensive to begin growing the plant, and until more permits are given, the few legal growers in the state are going to charge a lot.
Over the past few months, owners have had to pay for an endless list of essentials, from applying for new licenses, packaging the many pounds of green stuff they grow, and instituting the state’s mandatory radio frequency identification system that tracks every single marijuana plant “from seed to sale.”
So bottom line: despite $5 mil in sales on week one, many Coloradoans are sacrificing the safety and convenience of legal purchases by sticking with their drug dealer. One 26-year-old dealer named “Spike” told Buzzfeed he offers a better deal to the young professionals he sells to. And then there's this:
If you ask Spike, he can also can offer something that the dispensaries, despite all their brand new bells and whistles, cannot: a built-in smoking buddy.
“I’m the same price and I’m a cool guy,” he said. Plus, he added, there’s no line to see him.
(Shades of James Franco in Pineapple Express in that quote.)
Anyway the whole story is pretty fascinating, if not mind-blowing. Read it here.