The Recession is Hurting Drug Dealers, Too

So there I was, walking to the corner mercado one recent evening, okay? It’s an old neighborhood that hasn’t been afflicted by gentrification yet, and a lot of the houses are set maybe three feet back from the sidewalk. Front yards? Front yards happen to other people, baby. And so as I’m walking along, a guy sitting on the front step of one of the houses says “Yo, you got money, I got weed, dawg.” I politely decline.

“You sure?” the would-be dealer asks. “I’ll beat anyone’s prices, dawg. Special overstock sale, know what I mean? Too much inventory, not enough liquid assets to pay my mortgage. Help a fella out?”

I had no intention of buying anything, but I was intrigued by the idea that a drug dealer could be hurting during the current economic climate, too. We struck up a brief conversation, and he explained that his sales were “way down” from only a few months ago. Evidently he only deals in grass, and most of his customers are, like, not, like, stoners or anything, man, just casual recreational users, man. And with the economy sucking, guess what line-item expense most of these casual users seem to be cutting from their household budgets?

Apparently, it’s trickling up the supply chain, too. Street-level dealers are moving less product, means middlemen are moving less product, means large-scale distributors are sitting on way too much inventory, and everyone’s cash flow is hurting. According to my very friendly neighborhood dealer, his supplier has been making him offers he “couldn’t refuse”, so he stocked up and is trying to pass the savings along to the customer, but nobody’s buying.

Were the guy not dumb enough to be dealing serious quantities of dope (one of the “specials” was for five ounces – buy four at discounted rates, get the fifth free) to strangers off his own front steps, I’d almost feel sorry for him.

I remember reading somewhere recently that the Hells Angels up in Canada are stockpiling marijuana up there, because the market is flooded and it’s not bringing nearly the prices it used to. I guess they haven’t fully thought through the supply-and-demand issues yet, or are stubbornly standing on principle, or something. Either way, the Angels can’t be too hard up for cash, or they’d be liquidating their assets, I’d think.

Most regular readers know that I’m neither hardline anti-drug, nor one of those crazy “decriminalize everything” people. I really don’t want to start a big huge drug debate here, but there’s incontrovertible proof that some seriously unpleasant criminal organizations are heavily involved in the drug business, among other things. I know there’s been a lot of really heavy-handed anti-drug propaganda over the years on this theme – do you really know what you’re supporting or funding by buying drugs, blah blah blah – but whatever your views on the subject, you really have to wonder what side-effects the apparent slump in (at least parts of) the narcotics market is going to have, short and long term. Since these various criminal organizations are essentially for profit operations, and their profits have got to be hurting right now, what if anything are they doing to maintain the financial status quo?

Also, I’m kind of curious; don’t necessarily say anything incriminating in the comments, but does anyone know just how far up the supply chain the current depressed prices of marijuana goes? Street-level prices seem to be down, and wholesale prices seem to be down, but those have always fluctuated with the market – supply and demand, and all that. Are growers getting less for their product these days, too? I’ve always been under the impression that they basically worked at contracted, fixed rates, take it or leave it…

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', General | on May 26th, 2009| Comments Off on The Recession is Hurting Drug Dealers, Too

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