Despite shutdown after shutdown, the black market for cannabis is thriving in California including the Coachella Valley.
This “growing” industry is starting to affect the businesses that are actually playing by the rules.
“As long as there’s a lack of task force or people shutting it down it’s going to continue to be a problem,” Paul Cotterell, owner of The Leaf on el Paseo, said.
The Leaf is a luxurious cannabis company with strikingly reasonable prices but keeping those prices might be difficult as illegal businesses continue to slip through the cracks.
“It’s more frustrating because of the measures we go through to make sure we are compliant and doing everything by the book,” he said.
Cannabis businesses have to pay rising taxes and only sell tested products.
“On every product what you’re going to see is a badge number, manufacture date, and that’s backed up with our own certificate of analysis so we can go get all the records and we have it all on record at all times,” Cotterell said.
Other places have no records and are now closed. The most recent sting operation happened in Palm Springs at a building in the 200 block of W. Radio Street. The building has a sign reading “Advanced Farm Tech.”
The Riverside County District Attorney Task Force found 1,400 cannabis plants inside ready to be harvested.
Even though this operation is shut down for now, other illegal grows keep popping up. Some operations are known for being closed down then reopening with other names.
According to recent reports, the illegal market to totaled about $70 billion nationwide, seven times the legal market.
“It’s an existing problem that’s going to take time to crack down,” Cotterell said.
Time and education because the cheap product you might be able to buy off a dealer on the streets could have long-term health consequences.