Despite legal recreational marijuana in Colorado, a 25-year-old was shot dead trying to sell pot the old-fashioned, illegal way. Two men from Texas set up a warehouse to grow more than they would ever need. Three people buying pot in a grocery store parking lot were robbed at gunpoint. The Associated Press reports that while no one expected the state’s first-in-the-nation recreational sales would eliminate the need for dangerous underground sales overnight, the violence has raised concerns among police, prosecutors and pot advocates that a black market for marijuana is alive and well.
“It has done nothing more than enhance the opportunity for the black market,” said Lt. Mark Comte of the Colorado Springs police vice and narcotics unit. “If you can get it tax-free on the corner, you’re going to get it on the corner.” It’s difficult to measure whether there has been an increase in pot-related crimes beyond anecdotal reports. Pot advocates say the state is in a transition period, and while pot-related crimes will continue, they will begin to decline as more stores open and prices of legal marijuana decline. Sales are due to begin in June in Washington sate. “There’s going to be a black market here,” said Cmdr. Pat Slack of the Snohomish Regional Drug/Gang Task Force, which covers an area outside Seattle. “There will be drug rip-offs and drug debts that haven’t been paid. All of that is going to stay.”