A historical milestone was recently passed when marijuana stores opened up in Washington. Instead of being a joyous occasion, however, legal marijuana in Washington only serves to demonstrate just how backwards the state can get when trying to solve problems. The sticking point here is the price. Normal street prices for marijuana buds range between eight and 12 dollars a gram, but licensed stores are selling for upwards of 27 dollars a gram, double to triple the prices found on the street.
Voters were sold I-502 as a way to get rid of crime, cartels and the black market. When people can buy from licensed, legal stores, criminals aren’t supported, right? After I-502 was passed, state leadership did research, hired consultants and prepared for years for the rollout of legal marijuana. At what point did they gloss over the fact that tripling the price will do absolutely nothing to the black market?
There is definitely a novelty factor for people, participating in the ability to buy drugs from a state-sanctioned store, but the disparate price cannot have any significant long-term effect on the black market. Many drug dealers are viewed as dangerous, violent individuals. Buying cocaine or hard drugs is viewed as risky. Marijuana? It is so tame this day and age, there’s no stress involved in buying black market marijuana. There’s no real danger to make the drastic price difference worth it. In fact, there’s absolutely nothing that makes the drastic price difference worth it. Customer service, quality and variety, all these are factors met, if not exceeded, by independent dealers across the state.
As much as the state leadership appears to be incompetent, it’s silly to assume that they simply are too stupid to find their asses with both hands. State officials got to where they were by being intelligent and able to play the political game. The evidence doesn’t add up. State leaders cannot be completely terribly stupid, yet when legalizing marijuana to decrease crime, no action is taken that will actually decrease “crime” (as much of a criminal act that growing and selling a plant really is). The only conclusion that can be reached is that the state never intended to fight the black market, and are only trying to make money.
Instead of making decisions that could have a serious impact on the black market and crime, the state is just trying to get more money out of citizens. The state is just another drug dealer, only the police are on their side this time. Marijuana was decriminalized before the state sold weed, police didn’t care as much about hunting down potheads, but now that the state is in the weed business, I wouldn’t be surprised if the cops start cracking down on black market dealers again.
If there’s one thing the state doesn’t like, it’s competition. Market regulation is employed all the time to benefit one firm over the other, this time it’s the state who is directly trying to benefit. Instead of trying to reduce crime, the state is doing nothing more than throwing their hat into the drug dealing game.