Schaper: After Prop 64 Passage, Black Market Pot Shops Still Thrive — What Happened?

No surprise in this article by Arthur Schaper.  For years the California Political News and Views has written that the real purpose of marijuana legalization was to promote the product, not the revenues.  Seriously can the cops tell the difference between “legal” and “illegal marijuana”?  At the same time law enforcement is not arresting folks unless they have massive amounts of drugs or pot.  They are not busting the street dealers—small fry, that get no jail time and maybe a minor fine—so why waste the time on paperwork for the arrest.  Prop. 64 has made California an open market for drugs.

“But the biggest problem was that stiff added sales tax of 15%. Lo and behold, because the costs of legal marijuana are so high, much higher than the drugs pushed on the street, the black market survives and even thrives in the state of California. Why bother buying legal pot, which is excessively expensive, when you can buy it cheaper from the seedy drug dealer?

I favor decriminalization for possession and use of marijuana, since locking people up does not get them sober nor does it set them free from the addition. One reason why? It’s even easier to get drugs in prison than on the street? However, Prop 64 was the wrong approach for many reasons to phase out onerous legal consequences for drug use or possession. The proof is the fact that the black market has not be closed down or forced out of business by the legal compete.”

Potheads are conservatives when it comes to the purchase of the product.  Why pay DOUBLE at a store when you can get it 24/7 on the street.  The street price does not include taxes, the cost of a brick and mortar building, security or the cost of permits sold by the State and community? 

After Prop 64 Passage, Black Market Pot Shops Still Thrive — What Happened?

Arthur Schaper,  5/21/19 

The Modesto Bee has reported that Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputies are cracking down on illegal pot shops, which are eating away at the legal marijuana businesses, all recently established following the passage of Proposition 64. 

Wait a second!

I thought that legalizing recreational marijuana would do away with the black market? Certainly that’s what the proponents of Prop 64 believed, and one of the reasons why the initiative passed by a significant margin in 2016.

What went wrong? What was in the iniative, and thus the reasons why I opposed the initiative, even though I believe that people should not be locked up, placed in jail for using a drug that simply makes you … stupid.

I voted NO on Prop 64 precisely because there were so many poison-pill provisions in the legislation, including language which would undercut one of the goals of the bill–shut down the black market and bringing marijuana sales into the open. The initiative imposed a massive sales tax on recreational marijuana products. The initiative also included stiff penalties for marijuana related crimes, including the loss of one’s Second Amendment Rights for a non-violent misdemeanor. These two problems, along with a host of other issues (the fact that marijuana use, sale, and distribution remains illegal at the federal level; the impossibility of banking because marijuana sales violate federal law, etc.) made Prop 64 a bad proposition.

But the biggest problem was that stiff added sales tax of 15%. Lo and behold, because the costs of legal marijuana are so high, much higher than the drugs pushed on the street, the black market survives and even thrives in the state of California. Why bother buying legal pot, which is excessively expensive, when you can buy it cheaper from the seedy drug dealer?

I favor decriminalization for possession and use of marijuana, since locking people up does not get them sober nor does it set them free from the addition. One reason why? It’s even easier to get drugs in prison than on the street? However, Prop 64 was the wrong approach for many reasons to phase out onerous legal consequences for drug use or possession. The proof is the fact that the black market has not be closed down or forced out of business by the legal compete

Proponents expected a collect greater tax revenue with the passage of Prop 64. What happened instead is that the black market has only gotten bigger, while the marijuana revenue failed to meet projections. No end to the black market, lower-than-expected tax revenue, and now police officers throughout the state of California must divert their already strained resources to crack down on these illegal pot shops.

It’s time to have a thoughtful discussion about decriminalization of controlled substances, one that recognizes the potential unintended consequences of marijuana use, one which allows law enforcement to stop down serious crimes and track down those criminals, but most importantly one which understands how markets work, how free enterprise works, and which recognizes the power of competition as well as government control.

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.