Washington Pot Czar Forecasts Victory Over Black Market

Aug 5, 2013

Washington’s so-called “pot czar” says he thinks the state’s new legal marijuana industry could wipe out most of the black market. But he says officials haven’t laid the groundwork for the knockout blow. 

Credit National Institute on Drug Abuse

Consultant Mark Kleiman told Seattle City Council members there ought to be a law enforcement crackdown on street dealers after state stores come online.

“Once there’s open, legal retailing and the prices have had a chance to fall, the illicit market is a paper tiger. But a paper tiger doesn’t fall over until you push it. And I don’t see anybody now ready to push" says Kleiman.

Initiative 502 set up new taxes on legal pot, but doesn’t direct more money to law enforcement. Kleiman says police should help steer customers into the legal market by taking dealers off the streets. It will also be important to crack down on illicit grow operations, once the state starts licensing legal growers.

Any crackdown in Seattle could come up against a city policy that voters approved: It makes marijuana infractions the lowest enforcement priority for police.

Copyright 2013 KPLU