Illegal Dispensaries Are Creating A Public Health Crisis

How to Identify Illegal Marijuana Dispensaries

In 2018, history was made in California, as marijuana became legal for both medical and recreational use. Did you know, though, that several illegal marijuana dispensaries still operate throughout the state?

As recently as September 2019, authorities were successful in identifying 2,835 unlicensed dispensaries operating in California. The only question is, how do you know if a dispensary you are using is legitimate?


What are Illegal Marijuana Dispensaries?

Despite it now being legal to use cannabis as medicine, as well as recreationally in California, the illegal sale and distribution of marijuana is more prevalent than ever.

At its most basic, the problem comes down to taxes. Illegal dispensaries simply aren’t a fan of paying them. Nor are owners of illegal marijuana dispensaries willing to comply with state regulations that govern the sale of certain marijuana products.

Of course, no one likes paying taxes. However, the fact that so many illegal marijuana dispensaries exist poses a very real threat to the continued legality of cannabis.


Illegal Marijuana Dispensaries are a Threat to Everyone

According to California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) only 873 marijuana dispensaries in California are licensed. This means that in just 2-years after cannabis being made legal, California’s cannabis black market has trebled in size.

  • In 2019, $3.1 billion was spent by consumers on legal cannabis products.

  • By comparison, the same year saw $8.7 billion spent on illicit cannabis products.

  • Illegal marijuana dispensaries undercut legal dispensary prices and are already putting many out of business.

To make matters worse, illegal marijuana dispensaries are putting the health of many Californian cannabis users at risk.


In 2019, the Department of Public Health was able to link over 60 cases of acute lung disease to vape pens being sold in illicit marijuana dispensaries. Earlier this year, the Bureau of Cannabis Control went on to find that vitamin E acetate causing the current vaping crisis, is still present in 75% of vape pens purchased from illicit dispensaries.


How Can You Report Illegal Marijuana Dispensaries?

Make no mistake, the illicit cannabis black market in California poses a threat to everyone. There is good news, though.

California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control is finally attempting to curb illicit cannabis sales. To do this, legal dispensaries are being provided with an emblem complete with a unique QR code.

When consumers scan QR codes, they will be able to immediately verify whether or not a dispensary they are visiting is fully licensed and regulated. When a dispensary isn’t, consumers are encouraged to find an alternative dispensary and report any illegal establishment to authorities.


Help Keep Cannabis Legal and Safe for Everyone

It goes without saying that many Californian cannabis users will likely continue to take advantage of low prices at illegal marijuana dispensaries. Just remember, though, that paying less today could come at a high price tomorrow⁠—especially if you put your health at risk by consuming tainted marijuana products.



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