Hoping to shrink California’s enormous cannabis black market, lawmakers seek to make illegal weed even more illegal.

Specifically, a bill proposed in the state assembly would give large fines to businesses which provide advertising aid, building space, or other aid to illegal cannabis businesses.

Recreational cannabis has been legal in California since the beginning of 2018, and has been the largest legal weed market in the United States. However, only 20% of bud sold in the state is legal. Many consumers still favor the black market, largely because they don’t charge taxes so the weed is significantly cheaper.

Introduced by Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park), the proposed bill would fine black market-enabling businesses up to $30,000 per day, as reported by the LA Times.

“Despite some success during the first two years of legalized cannabis sales, the illicit market has flourished,” Rubio said. “In addition to dwindling tax revenues, the underground market presents public safety and health threats to California.”

The measure was approved unanimously by the State Assembly and is now on to the Senate to see what they think of it.

Many in the cannabis industry are not in favor. Some have suggested that instead of making illegal weed more illegal, regulators could try making legal weed more legal.

“In general we would rather see ‘carrots’ to assist people in securing commercial licenses by lowering the barriers to entry, rather than ‘sticks,’ be they criminal or civil,” Ellen Komp, deputy director of California National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), told the LA Times.

Komp has suggested that the state open up the legal market wider in California by addressing the fact that two thirds of cities in the state prohibit legal cannabis licenses.

Meanwhile, others in the industry are in favor of a proposed bill from Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) which would temporarily lower cannabis taxes over the next three years to make legal weed prices more competitive.

Photo via Flickr/Cannabis Urlaub

Natalie