The illicit cannabis market has proven to be quite resilient. Although the assumption had been that once states start legalizing the controversial plant, consumers would ditch the black market for legal pot, that’s not how things have turned out. Years after recreational cannabis was first legalized, the black market still vastly outsells America’s state-legal marijuana industry.
In California, for instance, the illicit market is estimated to generate $8 billion per year while the legal market makes around $4.4 billion annually. As such, authorities in California, which features the most lucrative cannabis industry in the country, have stepped up their efforts against black-market dealers.
The past few years have seen a steady rise in the amount of illicit cannabis that authorities in the state have seized. According to California Attorney General Rob Bonta, the Department of Justice’s annual Campaign Against Marijuana Planting Program (“CAMP”) has seized and destroyed almost 1.2 million illicit cannabis plants this year.
This is nearly double the 614,267 illicit cannabis plants that were seized in 2018. The CAMP program has been seizing more and more illicit pot per year, eradicating 953,459 plants in 2019 and 1.1 million in 2020. While those numbers are high, they do not compare to 2009, when the CAMP program seized and destroyed an unprecedented 4.5 million cannabis plants.
Even as California and the country at large have enjoyed increasing cannabis sales, the cannabis black market has held on like a tick, stealing already scarce water, denying states millions of dollars in tax revenue and damaging the environment in the process. Not to mention the fact that illicit cannabis products are more likely to be subpar and impact the health of users. The CAMP program has been hard at work this year, seizing more than 180,000 pounds of marijuana as well as 165 weapons; in addition, the program has removed more than 67,000 pounds of cultivation infrastructure in just 13 weeks, according to the state’s attorney general’s office.
In his statement, Bonta said that illegal cannabis grows are harmful to the environment, the health and safety of the community, and the economy. He directed his office to begin a six-month review of the CAMP program in partnership with local, state and federal agencies to make the program even more effective at finding illegal cannabis farms, destroying the operations, and addressing their environmental, labor and economic consequences.
This clampdown is good for licensed sector players such as American Cannabis Partners because all actors would play by the same rules once illicit sellers are weeded out.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to American Cannabis Partners are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/ACP
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