Grow, Gift, Repair

1 year later review

Unlike other industries, though, the stores are competing with an illegal market where prices are lower — between about $150 and $280 an ounce.

Hoffman said it will always cost more on the legal market because of taxes, and the cost of regulations and testing — something he believes people want.

“They know exactly what they’re getting in terms of potency. They know exactly what they’re getting in terms of lack of chemicals and pesticides,” Hoffman said. “And I think people are going to be willing to pay a premium just to do something legal, rather than illegal.”

Hoffman said the legal industry is still young, so it’s hard to measure its effect on the black market.

“I would be willing to wager that has been a relatively small impact, given that we have 30 retail stores open right now,” he said.

May Spill Into Black Market

More than half of the stores are in Worcester County and west. Kamani Jefferson of the Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council said that’s one of the reasons the illicit market is still serving a lot of people.

“I would say probably more than 50% of consumers in Massachusetts are still buying illegally, whether it’s because a.) the prices are too expensive or b.) some of these dispensaries are too far,” Jefferson said. “People are like, ‘Why do I need to drive an hour or two to get it when I can go to the same person I’ve been getting it from, who lives five minutes away?’”

The legal market has begun to normalize the use of marijuana. But one western Massachusetts resident, who did not want to be named because he buys and sells on the illegal market, said the black market may increase because of the legal stores.

“As more and more people fall in love with marijuana and their pocketbooks are hurting, it’s going to actually spill more people into the black market,” he said.