Hemp Hunter
by on January 7, 2014
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The black market for weed in Colorado is still thriving, despite the existence of retail shops that sell it legally, according to exclusive interviews with growers, dealers and weed industry experts.

There are a number of reasons that people still call their dealers instead of visiting one of the state’s 37 new Amsterdam-style dispensaries, which opened for business Jan. 1. Number one is the price: retail weed in Colorado sells for a whopping $65 or $70 an eighth, depending on quality.

Those high prices are mostly due to sky-high sales and excise taxes. Even though much of those taxes go to a good cause, the price on the black market is much lower for the same amount. Steven, a University of Colorado Boulder student who sells weed illegally, told The Huffington Post he only charges $30 an eighth for top-quality herb — less than half the price it would cost at a recreational dispensary. (Steven’s name has been changed to protect his identity.)

There are a handful of other reasons that might compel Colorado state residents to buy their pot on the black market. One reason, according to several sources, is that the quality of retail herb isn’t always as good as the marijuana grown for medicinal purposes, which is often also sold illicitly.

“These recreational places aren’t getting product that’s up to par with the medicinal side, simply because they need to come up with a lot more product for the consumer,” says Jacob, a legal caregiver who runs a grow operation of about 250 plants in an undisclosed location in Denver County and asked that his last name be excluded, citing concerns about the federal government. “The quality just isn’t as good. There are a lot of big gorilla-type grow operations here. Some of them will cut the plant down after only 60 days, when in reality it needs 70 days to flower. There’s so much demand that the plants get put on a schedule. But that’s going to affect your high [if the plant is harvested prematurely].”



What’s more, availability is an issue when it comes to procuring retail weed. Lines are long, many shops are forced by law to close by 7 p.m. and their supplies are already reportedly running out. Plus, most shops are in the Denver area. There are plenty of towns that are far away from Colorado’s progressive capital city which have chosen to ban the sale of recreational weed in their municipalities, forcing residents to look to the black market for their bud.


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