Since the start of marijuana legalization in Washington D.C. on February 26, there remains to be only four ways that citizens can get their hands on cannabis. As of today, and for the foreseeable future, recreational dispensaries are not one of them.
The people of the District can legally obtain marijuana through donors of legal age (the law allows up to one ounce to be shared without the exchange of money), by growing their own plants, a process that is not easy and takes a substantial amount of time and money, or they can apply to get their medical card through a doctor.
The main option for most people has become obtaining it through dealers on the marijuana black market. The legalization has led to an influx of people who had never been involved in buying pot off of street dealers before, but now feel more comfortable with the change in law.
As one government contractor who has a reliable dealer explained:
“The black market is the obvious choice. It’s awesome.”
This issue of legalization without a regulated, legal way to purchase cannabis has been seen before in 2013 throughout Colorado and the state of Washington. Citizens could legally consume and possess marijuana, but were unable to purchase it without a medical license.
Both states reported a dramatic increase in adult cannabis consumption during that time (or at least an increase in adults willing to admit it), a trend that seems to be continuing in D.C. as they deal with the issue of legalizing possession without retailers from which to purchase it.
Keith Stroup, founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), spoke on the black market problem that Washington D.C. is currently dealing with,
“If you’re going to legalize marijuana, you also have to legalize the supply because you want to get rid of the black market or at least limit the black market. Right now, they’ve done the exact opposite.”
With no forthcoming changes to create a system of purchasing cannabis recreationally, the law is fueling the black market. As one D.C. dealer put it:
“It’s the dealer-protection act of 2015. This was a license for me to print money.”
Until dispensaries for recreational cannabis purchase are created, the black market will continue to be the main source of obtaining marijuana for the people of Washington D.C.