Expert: Marijuana black market set to grow until Utah starts selling cannabis

Medical marijuana expert says he thinks Utahns will turn to "black market" for cannabis until state establishes infrastructure to distribute marijuana by 2020. (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) — As of this week, medical marijuana is legal in Utah — but it won't be available to buy until 2020.

Sources tell 2News the Utah black market moves millions of dollars in product every month, and they expect that to grow.

“I would have to say yes, they are seeing an uptick,” said medical marijuana advocate Justin Arriola.

Arriola is not a drug dealer or a medical marijuana user, but he's well-connected in every aspect of the medical marijuana industry. He helps run patient groups and advocated for Proposition 2.

“As much as we want to pretend Utah doesn't have a black market, it very much does,” Arriola said.

The drug dealers need to comply with Utah dosages and standards, and now they have a whole new client base, Arriola said.

“They are very sophisticated; they have a wide product selection," he said.

Obviously, the purchase of weed from dealers is still illegal.

But, Arriola says, “very quickly those needs will be met by somebody and, more than likely, it's going to be the black market.”

Patients caught with medical marijuana will not be charged if they have an affirmative defense letter from a physician. Patients must have the proper form of medical cannabis: it must be in the proper packaging and can't be more than one gram.

“I really do feel like the black market is going to meet the needs here and I'm not sure the people in power are quite aware of how much that's happening,” Arriola said.

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