LOS ANGELES, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- A medical-marijuana wholesaler says the federal crackdown on pot dispensaries in California has driven the flourishing business underground.
The Orange County man, whose name was not reported, told the Los Angeles Times he and other purveyors had to give up their storefront dispensaries under pressure from the U.S. Justice Department, but reverted to an old-school business model of delivering product directly to customers.
"It's back to the underground," the veteran dealer told the newspaper. "Anyone who is smart is just going to take it back to the streets."
Medical marijuana was legalized in California in 1996 to make it easier for people to obtain the drug for relief from symptoms of cancer, AIDS and a broad array of other ailments. The law ran afoul of the federal government, which declared marijuana was still illegal and sellers were subject to arrest.
The dealer said medical-marijuana suppliers quickly went back to the word-of-mouth advertising and clandestine deliveries that had been used prior to dispensaries.
He said no dealer worth his or her salt would register for permits or pay taxes on their business because of the paper trail.
"The reality is you can't do that....," he said. "Everyone is just registering for their own take-down."