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Grown in Oklahoma, Smoked in New York: Illicit Marijuana's Legal Roots

·1 min

In April, state drug agents in Oklahoma intercepted an 18-wheeler smuggling 7,000 pounds of marijuana hidden in security camera boxes. The weed, grown on licensed farms, was being transported to New York, where it could be sold illegally for millions of dollars. This incident highlights a concerning trend resulting from the patchwork approach to marijuana legalization. States like New York, which have legalized marijuana but have been slow to establish licensed retail outlets and producers, are creating an opportunity for illegal sales to thrive. As a result, the illicit market is undermining tax revenues and job creation promised by legalization. Most of the marijuana in New York is illegal, even though it comes from legal sources like California and Canada. It is estimated that 40% of marijuana consumed in New York City comes from Oklahoma. The federal illegality of marijuana prevents states from engaging in interstate trade that would make illicit trafficking less profitable. Additionally, heavy state and federal taxes sometimes push state-licensed businesses to sell to the illegal market to stay afloat.