Where Californian Medical Marijuana Really Ends Up

By Luke Walker 11/17/11

Not in California, according to a pot-grower and a former dispensary owner who spoke to The Fix.

thefix_flat rate shipping boxes.jpg
Flat rate US Postal Services shipping boxes
are a convenient way to move "medical"
marijuana around the country.
Photo via

Two medical marijuana industry insiders tell The Fix that up to half of all Californian MMJ ends up being sold illicitly, backing claims made by the feds in their recent legal crackdown. “Buck”, a trained horticulturist who's been growing pot in the hills of northern California for over a decade, admits that he—like others he knows in the trade—sells his weed out of state. And he claims it saves lives: “Californian pot growers are undermining savage drug gangs south of the border more effectively than the DEA has ever come close to," he tells us. "In the years since California legalization we have reduced [the cartels'] influence and market share by as much as 99%. A couple hundred hippie farmers are single-handedly diverting millions from cartels on a daily basis, money which would otherwise fuel murder, torture and execution.” In other states, where pot isn't grown legally, he sells pot for up to five times as much as in California; this, says Buck, is his "golden goose.” He estimates that less than 10% of all MMJ grown in California is used for medicinal purposes, with 40% sold for recreational use in-state and 50% shipped out: “Everybody’s doing it.”

Meanwhile “Ed,” former owner of a now-shuttered dispensary in LA, says the $10,000 a week he'd make legally in California paled in comparison to selling in states like Georgia or New York: “A pound of Kush goes for about $1,400 if you’re selling it here legally, but in Atlanta the same amount can be sold for $6,500.” Ed claims few dispensary owners run a strictly legal operation.

Buck details how to export medical weed out of state: “The preferred method for most is United States Postal Services flat rate shipping box. For $10 you can ship a ten pack [ten-pound package] to any point in the country.” Another common technique, referred to as OPT, or “Old Person Transport”, means hiring an elderly person—generally one with financial and/or health problems—to haul 100 pounds of pot or more across the country, totally unsuspected by law enforcement. Both Buck and Ed refuse to call their enterprise criminal. “Drugs have always been easier for kids to buy than a beer," says Buck. "Maybe the US should take a lesson from Starbucks with free trade coffee: if you cant stop it, isn’t it better to at least choose where the drugs are coming from?”

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