Industry analysts blame the state’s slow rollout of legal stores in relatively far-flung locations, compared with other places that allowed stores to open near population hubs faster. Most cannabis consumers simply don’t have a legal place to buy that is as convenient or as cheap as the illicit sellers they’re used to, advocates say.
Cannabis Commissioner Britte McBride said Tuesday, “The task force is a common-sense idea. That type of [illegal] activity not only undermines people who are licensed, it undermines people who are in the pipeline doing their damnedest to get their stuff in order and trying to do this legally.”
The Commonwealth Dispensary Association, which represents medical marijuana retailers that spend heavily to comply with regulations, has advocated for a crackdown on
But other groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council, argue that more cannabis criminalization would perpetuate racial disparities in policing.
Kamani Jefferson, president of the MRCC, said policy leaders who are serious about reducing the illicit market should focus on bringing unlicensed sellers who want to go legal into the regulated marketplace through outreach, education, training, and other programs. Before arresting more people, the state should give them a chance to join the industry, which is now too costly for many to do, he said.
“Most people want to build a career versus hide away from the police,” Jefferson said. “There needs to be a way to transition them into the legal market.”