Separating California’s Underground Cannabis Economy Posted by On


The tale of a longtime unlicensed Whittier dispensary came to an end recently with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration selling the property at auction; it won’t be the last. 

As the state looks to find mechanisms to enforce cannabis laws without returning to the massive arrest hauls we saw prior to legalization, expect to see more and more properties that were a part of the state’s once-thriving illicit cannabis market coming up at auction. 

That’s not to say the state’s underground cannabis economy isn’t still more than twice the size of its legal one at the very least, but as legalization continues to cross America, the numbers will continue to edge towards the favor of legal pot. Eventually, it will look something like tobacco or booze, where the illicit part of the market domestically represents such a small number, we don’t really think much about it. But sure, you can buy some knockoff Marlboros or moonshine if you really want to. 

In addition to the perils of enforcement, states like Maine and Oklahoma also are helping lower prices on the east coast. Why risk shipping a box to New York City from California when Maine is only a five-hour drive, the same as driving from West Hollywood to San Francisco, and God knows how many pounds made that trip both ways. The comfort of putting it in your trunk and driving home with it goes a long way regardless of quality. And that’s not to say a lot of Maine’s top dogs aren’t too far off…

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The tale of a longtime unlicensed Whittier dispensary came to an end recently with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration selling the property at auction; it won’t be the last. 

As the state looks to find mechanisms to enforce cannabis laws without returning to the massive arrest hauls we saw prior to legalization, expect to see more and more properties that were a part of the state’s once-thriving illicit cannabis market coming up at auction. 

That’s not to say the state’s underground cannabis economy isn’t still more than twice the size of its legal one at the very least, but as legalization continues to cross America, the numbers will continue to edge towards the favor of legal pot. Eventually, it will look something like tobacco or booze, where the illicit part of the market domestically represents such a small number, we don’t really think much about it. But sure, you can buy some knockoff Marlboros or moonshine if you really want to. 

In addition to the perils of enforcement, states like Maine and Oklahoma also are helping lower prices on the east coast. Why risk shipping a box to New York City from California when Maine is only a five-hour drive, the same as driving from West Hollywood to San Francisco, and God knows how many pounds made that trip both ways. The comfort of putting it in your trunk and driving home with it goes a long way regardless of quality. And that’s not to say a lot of Maine’s top dogs aren’t too far off…



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