On July 1, hundreds of Nevadans stood in lines across the valley waiting for dispensaries to open up for recreational marijuana sales.
Six months later, the industry in Nevada is thriving, but that doesn’t mean all the cannabis in the valley is legal.
FOX5 investigated how legalization has affected the black market, by speaking with both street dealers who didn’t identify their real names and valley dispensaries.
“If you need it, I can find it and I can get it to you," one dealer, who we'll call 'X' said.
When they call, he comes. But don’t count on him clocking in for this job.
“I’m dealing with family people,” said the dealer. “Moms, dads, c-workers; it just brings people together.”
He said he sells marijuana the same way he did before July 1: illegally and on the streets.
“It’s to support myself because I have three kids,” he said. “I’m dealing with child support, so my checks go to them and my profits from this go to me. It’s just extra money to keep me afloat.”
He said legalization has only made it easier for him to carry his product.
“I usually just ride with the legal limit,” he said. “If I get stopped, I have the legal limit, so they don’t mess with me.”
It is legal for people 21 and over to carry up to an ounce.
Since July 1, North Las Vegas Police have arrested fewer people for marijuana possession. Arrests are down 66 percent, but according to North Las Vegas Police, there hasn’t been any change in arrest numbers for possession with intent to sell marijuana.
Similarly, X said he has no plans on stopping anytime soon.
“People don’t stop selling food stamps and that’s illegal,” he said. “I mean there is a market.”
He said he makes a minimum of $400 a week from his marijuana sales.
“I deal with about a quarter pound, which is four ounces,” he said. “I think the most I’ve made out of that is $1,200 and then out of that profit of that, $700 because I have to give my money back to reinvest in my business.”
Which is when he buys from the black market grower, whom he did not name.
However, legalization has changed X’s sales job. His profits are down so he said he has to make up for that.
“I sold cocaine, molly, ecstasy," he said.
He said, he doesn’t feel bad selling it.
“I feel like they should feel bad for wanting it,” he said.
As for marijuana, capitalism is the competition.
“It’s hard to get customers and price them how I want to price them,” he said. “Now, I have to compete with their prices and try to beat them or go with the quality.”
So he lowered his prices which lowered his profit.
A quarter ounce of Gorilla Glue #4 from the dealer costs $60, GG#4, which is referred to as Gorilla Glue on the streets is about double the price at dispensaries.
So what is the point of shopping at a dispensary?
“You either pay for it now, or you pay for it later," Mike Pizzo, Marketing Content Manager at Reef Dispensaries said.
Reef Dispensaries’ multi-million dollar facility, has state of the art technology to keep their plants in safe and in ideal living conditions.
“The state of Nevada’s testing regulations are so strict, perhaps the strictest in the country,” Pizzo said. “We adhere to those standards so you don’t have to worry about your cannabis being contaminated."
Pizzo said it’s also safer there for the customer.
“With our security presence, no one is going to try anything." “If they do, they’re going to get shut down pretty quickly.”
However, some still choose to go to a street dealer. The dealer FOX5 spoke to also has a layaway plan for his long time customers; he’ll front the weed and they pay later.
“If you keep it on you, you most likely can sell it," X said. “The dispensary is not always open, and people don’t always have their IDs. The money is out there, you just have to get to it.”
But customers can also get scammed on the streets.
“Before, I made more money because anything I had, I made double,” the dealer said. “Now it’s kind of like, depending on who you get, because it’s possible that’s hipped on to it and people that are not. So if you get someone that isn’t hip to it, that’s from out of town, you can keep that price at the higher market.”
Back at the dispensary, the prices stay the same no matter the customer.
Pizzo said before the legal market took hold, people had no idea what they were ingesting.
“You might pay a bit of a higher price on a legal market,” Pizzo said. “But if your black market grower is spraying the plants with Eagle 20, which is a harmful pesticide, you could end up with cancer.”
So far, there has been no sign of the black market dying, especially for dealers who are looking to supplement their income with a little green on the side.
“I can go get a job and work ten times harder,” the dealer said. “Or I can wait for my phone to ring and create my own check.”
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