In a scene reminiscent of Los Angeles’ struggle with black market pot shops, Michigan cops took down a number of unlicensed Detroit dispensaries late last week.
Yes, cannabis is legal in Michigan, but that didn’t stop state police officers from gearing up in military-issue camouflage and heavy artillery late last week during a far-reaching raid on multiple Detroit pot shops. Because while cannabis sales are legal to adults 21 and older, dispensaries are required to be licensed and permitted by state regulators.
And now, just like Southern California’s post-legalization struggles with unlicensed pot shops, Detroit and other Michigan cities have seen their own share of black market pot shops carried over from the grey market days of the Wolverine State’s loosely regulated medical-only industry. And following in the footsteps of their LA counterparts, Michigan cops are doing their best to muscle those non-compliant dispensaries out of business.
“The people of Michigan spoke – they wanted to have recreational marijuana – which is fine. We’re just here to enforce the law of anything that’s illegal,” State Police Lt. Mike Shaw told Fox2 Detroit. “Just like before, it used to be illegal to sell marijuana, it’s the same deal you have to do it and abide by the law.”
Michigan kicked off legal adult-use cannabis sales last month after a year of anticipation, and immediately saw millions of dollars in weed sales in just a matter of weeks. But while licensed dispensaries have had to jump through months of regulatory hoops and high priced permitting barriers, illegal pot shops do not pay taxes, state fees, or participate in mandated product testing.
“No one likes crime in their neighborhood, regardless of what it is. We got some tips from some members of the community that there were some illegal operations going on in these buildings,” Shaw said. “We’re going to investigate it to the fullest and get that information to the prosecutor.”
According to one anonymous source, a number of the black market dispensaries applied for traditional state licenses but were turned down. In some instances, the anonymous industry experts estimated that the untaxed dispensaries brought in as much as $100,000 in sales every month.
But while Los Angeles has struggled so far to stamp out the Southland’s vast network of unlicensed pot shops, it has yet to be seen if the Motor City’s black market shops will be able to bounce back and avoid interruption in new locations, or if they’ll close up shop and avoid further raids.
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