New York Times Article Reports California’s Cannabis Black Market Is Growing Not Receeding

Here’s the introduction to the piece by the Times…

It’s been a little more than a year since California legalized marijuana — the largest such experiment in the United States — but law enforcement officials say the unlicensed, illegal market is still thriving and in some areas has even expanded.

“There’s a lot of money to be made in the black market,” said Thomas D. Allman, the sheriff of Mendocino County, whose deputies seized cannabis oil worth more than $5 million in early April.

Legalization, Sheriff Allman said, “certainly didn’t put cops out of work.”

California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, has declared that illegal grows in Northern California “are getting worse, not better” and two months ago redeployed a contingent of National Guard troops stationed on the border with Mexico to go after illegal cannabis farms instead.



The Bureau of Cannabis Control, the agency charged with regulating marijuana in the state, has received around 7,500 complaints, most of them about illegal operations, and has sent out more than 3,000 letters ordering illegal businesses to shut down.

“It’s only a matter of time before we start making a dent in the illegal market,” said Alex Traverso, a spokesman for the agency, who acknowledged there were probably more illegal shops in Los Angeles alone than licensed shops in the entire state.

Cat Packer, the executive director of the Department of Cannabis Regulation in Los Angeles, said that even when illicit businesses were shut down, they often soon reappeared.

“It’s been a game of whack-a-mole in the city of Los Angeles,” she said.

Full article at

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