The Differences Between Legal and Illegal Marijuana Cause Difficulties

black market is healthy because of legal and illegal marijuana

With cannabis legalization efforts sweeping across the globe and cannabis laws and regulations changing on a monthly basis, the line between legal and illegal marijuana gets blurred.

Many countries — and sometimes every state within a country — are coming up with their own laws and regulations. Sometimes, the marijuana laws at state and federal levels drastically differ.

This can lead to some highly-unexpected situations for cannabis consumers, cultivators, and traders.

Here's why:

Just because cannabis is legal in your particular state or country does not always mean you are immune to prosecution or enforcement efforts. It also does not mean that legal cannabis is economically the most attractive option for the user or trader.

Next up we'll cover some examples that display this strange phenomenon.

Examples of Legal and Illegal Marijuana Difficulties

Here are three examples that show the unexpected situations that can occur as a result of differences in legal and illegal marijuana between countries and states.

Example 1: Federal vs State Laws

There are states in the U.S., like California and Colorado, which have legalized cannabis on both the medical and recreational level. But under federal law, cannabis still is illegal.

Federal law enforcement agencies can technically still enforce federal law in states that have legalized cannabis, and they sometimes do.

For example: In the past years, medical marijuana dispensaries in California have been targeted on a large scale with cease and desist orders and forfeiture lawsuits by federal prosecutors. Even though they were operating in compliance with state laws, they weren't immune to federal prosecution.

There are signs this could become more prevalent under the current Trump administration.

As long as cannabis stays illegal under federal law, you're always at risk!

Example 2: Far-Reaching Country Laws

Canada recently legalized recreational cannabis. The cannabis industry in Canada is growing at a fast pace. As more and more Canadians are working in this expanding industry, they sometimes encounter a very unexpected situation while traveling to the U.S.

Even though cannabis is legal in Canada, being affiliated in any way to the cannabis-industry can result in a lifetime ban from entering the U.S.

This ban can be lifted if you buy a $585 waiver. But that doesn't change the fact that this whole ban is highly questionable in the first place.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) explains it as being associated with cannabis use, cultivation or commerce means you are violating the Controlled Substances Act, even if it was in a different country where cannabis is legal.

According to them, they are simply enforcing federal law and the lifetime ban has a solid, legal foundation.

Example 3: Illegal Cannabis is Still an Attractive Option

History has shown that when there's demand for a product, you can be sure it will be met one way or another.

It doesn't matter if this product is illegal.

Here's why:

If legal business cannot fulfill demand for an illegal product, criminal groups and networks jump in to fill this void.

For decades, criminal groups controlled the cultivation and sale of cannabis in the U.S. As they became more professional and better at avoiding police, law enforcement agencies were left helpless against them.

In many U.S. states, the cannabis black-market flourished. That is exactly what California is suffering from right now.

The massive cannabis black market, that developed over the decades, is now undermining legal cannabis dispensaries that are playing by the rules.

You might be thinking, “How exactly?”

Well, illegal dispensaries greatly outnumber their legal counterparts. On top of this, the illegal dispensaries aren't paying any taxes, so they can keep their costs down. And what does the customer want? Cheap, quality cannabis.

People looking to buy cannabis flock to these dispensaries that are illegal and legal marijuana dispensaries playing by the rules, lose on hordes of customers.

Although cannabis is made legal, ironically, illegal cannabis is a more attractive option for many consumers.

Why aren't law enforcement agencies busting these illegal dispensaries? There are too many! They simply don't have the man power to crack down.

Let’s Discuss a Perfect World…

With these examples, we can clearly see that differences in cannabis laws and regulations, whether it's on the state or the federal level, can lead to some unexpected situations for anyone that's active in:

  • Cannabis trade/commerce;
  • Cannabis cultivation;
  • Or cannabis consumption.

Anyone who applies some common sense at the current legal situation of cannabis soon realizes it's inefficient and non-transparent.

One simple solution would be to legalize cannabis globally (we can always dream!).

A great example of laws and regulations that pass the test of legal and illegal marijuana common sense is the worldwide stance on hemp-derived products like CBD oil. Although CBD oil is made from the hemp plant, which admittedly has a better legal status than marijuana, it's legal or tolerated in almost all the Western countries.

Because why would you push a possibly beneficial product into illegality?

If you’re wondering what potential benefits hemp- and marijuana-derived products might have, visit, where they review the latest science.

Although legalization efforts are getting stronger and more active every year, we're still a long way from the ideal situation.

As long as legal and illegal marijuana varies in certain parts of the world, it will lead to more crime and criminals stepping in to fulfill a demand, which simply is there.

Also will it lead to some highly-unexpected situations for individuals who think they are operating legally.

When will politicians and governments realize? Only time will tell...

About the Author

Winston Peki is a marijuana enthusiast and vaporizer expert. Born and raised in Amsterdam, he grew up in a cannabis-friendly climate and learned quickly what a great ally the plant can be. He believes vaping cannabis and cannabis-based products is the easiest, safest, and most straightforward alternative to smoking it. He is the Founder of Herbonaut, an informative vaporizer and cannabis-based products site where you can find vaporizer reviews, CBD oil reviews, and more.