When a state legalizes cannabis there are plenty of goals to hit and careful regulation is needed to reach as many of those goals as possible. One big hope for legalizing cannabis anywhere is to eradicate the black market sale of the plant. Black market sales have many negatives, no regulation or quality assurance on products, no tax revenue for communities, no guarantee or safety from seller or law enforcement, etc. However when living in a legal cannabis state the ability to purchase product at a dispensary comes with so many positives. There is little data yet on exactly how fast the black market deteriorates after legalization, but one thing is for sure, making cannabis available legally in dispensaries does reduce the need for black market sellers. Are people ever caught selling alcohol or cigarettes on the black market? Due to the high availability of these products elsewhere and the lack of incentives to sell them outside of a licensed store, it would be highly unlikely and unwise. Cannabis law reform's goal is to do the same thing with cannabis. Allow people reasonable and affordable access, punish those selling without a license or to minors, and the black market demand will surely disappear.
Advocates of adult-use marijuana, known also as recreational marijuana, have long argued legalization could help eradicate the illicit trade. But how quickly -- and, if at all -- that happens is still being debated and measured throughout the country. In Massachusetts, the question will be put to the test in the months and years after commercial sales begin July 1.