Georgia Marijuana Card Guide: Black Market vs. Medical Marijuana
While Georgia is inching closer to having its first dispensary open, the medical marijuana industry has been in full swing across the nation for years. And longer than that, the black market has been responsible for more than most of the cannabis products in the United States.
Times have changed, and medical marijuana has pulled in a swift win in the war on weed, and Georgians with medical marijuana cards will soon be choosing high quality legal products over low quality black market cannabis.
In this article, we’ll cover the differences between black market cannabis and medical marijuana, and why medical marijuana ultimately beats the competition.
Black Market Marijuana
Cannabis is only a plant.
However, how the plant is grown, maintained, cultivated, harvested, processed, packaged, and sold, determines a lot of what that plant becomes, and what it does.
Almost anyone can recall a time when either they, or someone they knew bought cannabis from a friend-of-a-friend, probably somewhere private, and possibly a little sketchy.
Those days of nighttime parking lots and awkward couch-sessions to pick up a light sack of snicklefritz are long gone, replaced by retail storefronts with brightly lit display cases, labels with THC and CBD content, paid for with a debit card at a cash register, and bought and sold with legal immunity.
Black market, or illicit cannabis products once controlled nearly 100% of the market in the United States. Before states like California and Colorado legalized recreational cannabis use, if you smoked pot, you likely bought it illegally.
And the illicit market has some fairly clear priorities: make money.
Georgia Medical Marijuana
Medical marijuana products are very different from black market marijuana products. Grown to be used by patients of every age with many different health conditions, the priorities and regulations are very different for medical marijuana.
These products are taken by chronically and terminally ill people, individuals who are often extra vulnerable to sickness.
Because the medical marijuana industry caters to those consumers, the products from this industry go through scrupulous processing and testing before they hit the shelves.
While no industry is perfect and the medical marijuana industry is no exception, the baseline rule is at least the most obvious and knowable dangers of black market cannabis will not be present in medical marijuana products.
And for Georgia, that’s a big deal. Access to medical grade cannabis products for chronically and terminally ill patients should be a no brainer.
Fortunately, with Georgia recently approving 6 companies to grow cannabis, access to medical marijuana is right around the corner.
Marijuana Money – How the Black Market Flourished
The black market cannabis trade evolved and grew just like any other industry, and within that time many new production and growing methods were discovered that could maximize crop yields (and profits), while minimizing costs.
Even the move from outdoor growing to indoor growing opened entirely new opportunities in the black market, allowing smaller scale grow operations from communities and neighborhoods instead of large farms in other countries that require importing the plants to the U.S.
The streamlined approach for growing cannabis plants as fast as possible to yield as much as possible, while costing as little as possible, absolutely helped change the scope of how we grow and process cannabis both legally and illegally, some for good, and some for bad.
Black Market Marijuana Before the War on Drugs
Early before modern grow techniques were applied, you could likely pick up natural outdoor-grown cannabis from the street. Names like Acapulco Gold, Thai Stick, and Panama Red should ring a bell for those aware of the market at the time, for those that aren’t, we’re talking about the 1970s.
The 70s were a great time for cannabis, with racial disparity and the tumultuous Vietnam war on the forefront of everyone’s mind, cannabis was shared generously between groups of anti-war hippies, jazz musicians, and other “undesirables” as labeled by then President Nixon & his cabinet.
But despite the new war that was about to be waged in full swing on the American people (aka the war on drugs), cannabis was flourishing as a plant in America and South America.
Cannabis was being grown, harvested, and shipped at a rate never seen in the U.S before. But while the federal government continued to seek out, vilify, and prosecute every pot smoker and farmer possible, a new illicit substance was about to hit the streets that would change the shape of the black market, marijuana, and the world, forever.
Black Market Priorities – Quantity Over Quality
Before crack cocaine showed up, most illicit drugs had pretty thin margins and large barriers to entry. For large scale operations, multiple farms, farmers, workhands, packagers, shippers, and salesmen are all required.
Not to mention the utility, machine, and maintenance costs, regardless of who or where the illegal business is occurring, it’s still a business, and that’s a lot to manage only to see small profits.
Crack cocaine changed all of this by maximizing profits with minimal effort, manpower, and cost required.
By concentrating and increasing the potency of traditional powder cocaine, sellers could increase their profit margins exponentially because less material is required to produce a higher quantity.
While chemists are required to mix the materials, the cost goes down for the consumer and the seller, and the seller increases his profit margin by huge percentages by only having one extra step in the process.
While this might sound like a normal decision made at every board meeting for a Fortune 500 company, the consequences can be extremely dangerous when the product is supposed to go into the human body.
When High Profits Come with High Dangers
While crack and cocaine are essentially the same substance, the form they are in is entirely different, and the results of use are entirely different.
Crack is much more violent on the body, usually smoked, and effects are more potent.
Because of the reduced cost, crack was flooded into neighborhoods and communities that otherwise couldn’t afford powder cocaine, and the rest is history.
But this maneuver changed everything about cannabis, how it is grown, what it’s grown with, even up to what’s added to it after it’s been processed.
The same large-scale illegal operations that were farming and processing cocaine, were also farming cannabis.
And by taking what they learned about processing cocaine and applying it to marijuana, profits could be raised and costs could be lowered.
Unfortunately, the consequences this has had on cannabis production has led to where we are now, a place where most cannabis purchased on the illegal market probably shouldn’t be considered marijuana at all.
Black Market Marijuana – Far From Organic Cannabis
With interest mostly in squeezing profits, a lot of information is available on how illegal operations finance, grow, process, and sell black market marijuana.
The key component is in the priorities, making money.
While pharmaceutical companies catch plenty of flack for this problem, there are at least regulatory agencies set up that are supposed to prevent them from going overboard.
The black market doesn’t have that. Completely unrestricted freedom to manipulate products however they like. And they like them cheap.
Cannabis can be grown from seed to stoned right out of the ground like any other plant. And like any other plant or crop, there are ways to maximize yields.
To do this organically and safely, a lot of attention to detail is required. Proper control over nutrients, light, heat, water, soil, air, and contaminants is critical to growing a healthy, happy crop of cannabis.
For growing, anything that can go wrong typically will. Bug infestations, mold, parasites, and nutrient deficiencies are all problems growers must deal with.
The Dangers of Black Market Marijuana Cultivation
While many large-scale black market growing operations are outdoors, indoor grows are favored commercially for the control over the environment, where all the mechanisms of the growing operation can be controlled to maintain a healthy crop.
There’s no need to introduce harmful pesticides, cheap chemical-based nutrients, or synthetic fertilizers. All of which are favored by black market producers, with little to no care in the consequences consumers can pay for ingesting these harmful chemicals that are typically banned in the U.S.
Plant growth regulators (PGRs) are usually introduced at this stage, which can help control and speed up plant growth and flowering. PGR’s can make smaller plants produce larger yields in faster times and increase the density of the product, giving it more weight.
While introducing PGRs certainly helps growers and producers, the health consequences for consumers are clear, they’re not good to put into your body, and can have dangerous consequences to your health.
If you can manage to grow a seemingly healthy crop from there, you’ll need to dry and trim the plants.
Drying can be expedited, rushing leads to higher mold susceptibility, lower terpene and cannabinoid counts, and reduced THC content, but allows for quicker processing.
Trimming can be done by hand, machine, or not at all. Often black market cannabis flower is either machine trimmed, further reducing the terpene and cannabinoid count, or lightly trimmed and vacuum sealed or pressed for exportation.
It’s in these phases that we find some of the more dangerous practices used by black market growers and producers.
Techniques like adding ingredients that appear like trichomes, leaving high amounts of butane in hash products to add weight, and counterfeit THC vape cartridges containing toxic chemicals are all exclusive to the black market.
Medical Marijuana vs Black Market Marijuana
If you haven’t gathered by now, price is priority for black market marijuana.
Price is also a priority for medical marijuana, but there are contingencies and transparencies built into the medical marijuana industry that give it the obvious edge in the race.
For medical marijuana specifically, the priority is in treating patients.
The medical marijuana industry is bound by intense regulation, frequently monitoring everything from the chemicals you aren’t allowed to use on plants, to the amount of square footage you need to dedicate for concentrate production. In most states every single plant must be tagged, registered, and identifiable at every moment of its life cycle.
When you buy medical marijuana products, you’re buying a few more things than just the cannabis. You are purchasing the peace of mind that your products were not contaminated on purpose by producers.
You won’t need to be concerned with PGRs, baking soda in your flower, or chemical agents in your concentrates.
You’ll see the ingredients listed on your bottle.
You can clearly identify the right dosages, and especially if you suffer from any health complications, you don’t have to worry whether your cannabis has dangerous chemicals in or on it.
You can browse a variety of healthy products at different price points, without the anxiety of being pulled over and arrested. Many plants are grown with extraordinary attention to detail and care, and medical marijuana products are often much higher quality than what is available on the black market, especially if you live in a landlocked state farther away from states with legal cannabis.
Georgia Medical Marijuana Coming Soon
Our hope is that soon patients suffering from chronic and terminal illnesses will have uninhibited access to medical marijuana products at affordable prices.
As of right now the state approves 16 conditions for medical marijuana, and we are just around the corner from the state’s first dispensary.
To obtain a medical marijuana card in Georgia, you must first be diagnosed with one of the qualifying conditions by consulting with a physician.
Georgia is working hard to implement a fair and compassionate medical marijuana program and while this process won’t happen overnight, legislators are working to make it happen.
While medical marijuana programs take time to implement, Georgia is putting its foot on the gas pedal to get things up and running, and Georgians can be proud that their state is pushing forward in the fight for medical marijuana.
Get Your Georgia Marijuana Card
As a Georgia marijuana patient, you can legally purchase up to 20 ounces of low THC cannabis oil. For Georgians, this means getting the relief you need naturally and organically, and Georgia Marijuana Card is here to help.
Reserve your appointment today and get $25 off when we start processing applications!
Feel free to give us a call at (866) 781-5606, and we can help answer your questions about getting medical marijuana in Georgia