Investigating Yakima's black market for pot
YAKIMA, Wash. -- "The less legal marijuana that’s available, the stronger the black market is."
A past local drug dealer, who asked to remain anonymous, tells me before the legalization of marijuana, being a part of the black market was worth the $180,000 he’d pocket a year, even if it meant risking his life.
"The types of people you end up dealing with are very dangerous, so the risk of being shot or killed for your money or product are high. There’s no repercussion. If you get ripped off, you can't go to the cops and tell somebody you got ripped off. So, generally speaking, it’s a very violent underworld, when you talk about the black market," he said.
He tells Action News he got into the business through a mentor, who taught him how to grow and sell weed, and then hide his profits.
By networking, he says he was doing anywhere from 15 to 25 drug deals a day, and despite living in constant danger, he says all the tax-free money he was making made it easy for him to stay in the business.
"Jobs are incredibly competitive in the legal space. People that are willing to take risk are harder to come by, so there was good opportunity to make money," he said.
Since the legalization of pot a few years back, he says the money just isn’t what it used to be, and after seven years, he and many others like him were forced to transition their way out of the business, and into a legitimate day job.
But, some of those dealers took their shady deals into high school hallways.
16-year-old Nautica Deery says there’s still a strong black market, especially among high school-aged kids in Yakima schools, and that many of her friends are both dealers and users.
"A lot of kids bring it in school," she said.
Deery admits to smoking weed herself, regularly.
And she says she doesn’t see the black market going anywhere, anytime soon
"Kids are all smoking weed and that’s supposed to be the gateway drug, so they go from smoking to trying to find it with the wrong people, and they get into different drugs," she said.
Yakima police say marijuana has always been a problem at schools, both before and after legalization, and they don't see it getting any better.
Whether it's black market or from a dispensary, kids are consistently finding ways to get their hands on it.