When California began allowing legal marijuana sales for recreation use a little more than a year ago, some advocates for the change said legalization would eliminate the need for a criminal marijuana underground. So far, it appears that this has not been the case.
According to recent news reports, the marijuana black market continues to thrive. Gov. Gavin Newsom went so far as to say that the state's problem with illegal growing operations is getting worse.
Recently, in Mendocino County, law enforcement officers raided a facility that they said was processing 500 pounds of pot every day. The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office also said they seized $5 million in illegal cannabis oil last month.
One possible reason for the continued strength of the black market is that growers and suppliers simply don't want to go through the costly and slow process of obtaining a license. So far, the state has only licensed about 620 stores for legal recreational marijuana sales, and they can't keep up with demand, nor the supply. California growers produce about 14 million pounds of marijuana every year, according to some estimates, and Californians consume less than 20 percent of it. The rest goes out to other parts of the country illegally. Meanwhile, advances in technology will help growers produce more than 500,000 more pounds of black market marijuana this year than they did in 2018.
As the illegal marijuana industry continues to thrive, police continue to enforce the laws against it. People are still being arrested and charged with marijuana-related offenses almost every day in California.
It is important to remember that all those who are accused of crimes have the right to a defense. A good criminal defense attorney can help people accused of crimes to review their options and choose the best ways to protect their rights.