Guest view: The perfect business plan for illicit weed

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By Bill Rohrer

(Editor’s note:  Bill Rohrer is the co-founder of The Farm, a Delaware medical marijuana business awarded a license in 2021.  He earned a Master’s Degree in leadership and Public Administration and served as the Program Administrator for the Delaware Nutrient Management Law from 1999-2010.)

Delaware law makers recently legalized recreational marijuana because a majority of their constituents wanted it, regardless of the details in the bill.  Recreational sales need to be implemented and regulated immediately.  Currently, the law makes the possession of weed (up to 1 ounce) completely legal with no legal access to products.  This is the perfect blueprint for an Illicit weed business.  You don’t even need to grow it.  

There are plenty of states that overproduce marijuana, and gaining access is as easy as sending a text message to someone.  Crossing state lines with products is also illegal, but it happens every day. Delaware was doing everything right with medical marijuana; it was careful not to overproduce, cultivate with no pesticides, rigorous testing measures, and collecting fees.  The DE recreational law will open the doors for non-regulated, non-tested, and non-taxed weed.  

NYC recently experienced what Delaware is setting up.  New York State made weed legal and gave the permitted dispensaries 2 years to get set up.  In those two years, the Illicit market sold an estimated $2 billion worth of non-regulated, non-taxed weed. (NY post, March 17, 2023).  Now that legal NYC dispensaries are in place, they are struggling because they can’t compete with the illicit market.  New Jersey, on the other hand, merged medical with recreational sales immediately and prevented the illicit market from getting established and taking over.  

Delaware is a small state and I’ve experienced the “Delaware way” many times with common-sense street-smart policies.  I support recreational use, but this law is setting us up for big problems.  It’s embarrassing.