- The Washington Times - Friday, April 4, 2014

Just because marijuana is legal in Colorado doesn’t mean the black market for the drug has disappeared. Rather, the opposite, police officials said.

“[Legalization] has done nothing more than enhance the opportunity for the black market,” said Lt. Mark Comte of the Colorado Springs police vice and narcotics unit, in The Associated Press. “If you can get it tax-free on the corner, you’re going to get it on the corner.”

Police are concerned that recent escalations in violence are tied to the legal recreational pot sales market. But their fears are only based on anecdotal evidence; nobody in state or federal government agencies is tracking the numbers of violent crimes that are tied to the marijuana market, AP reported.

Still others outside of the police community say concerns are unfounded, and that any black market residual will disappear once more stores open and the supply-demand curve is more balanced.

“It’s just a transition period,” said pro-pot activist Brian Vicente, in the AP report. “Marijuana was illegal for the last 80 years in our state, and there are some remnants of that still around. Certainly, much like alcohol, over time these underground dealers will fade away.”

Yet Washington police say they’re prepping for similar black market impacts in their state,

“There’s going to be a black market here,” said Cmdr. Pat Slack of the Snohomish Regional Drug/Gang Task Force, outside Seattle, in the AP report. “There will be drug rip-offs and the drug debts that haven’t been paid. All of that is going to stay.”

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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