“Shop Legal Shops” is the message for Californians on Wednesday, May 15. It’s a call for people to only shop at licensed cannabis collectives on that day, and beyond. Influencers and other supporters will also be posting the same green tile on social media in solidarity of the Greenout Movement.

“Everyone should be alarmed. Consumers have no idea what type of dangerous products they are putting into their bodies,” says Alysia Sofios of Yummi Karma, a licensed cannabis manufacturer in Costa Mesa participating in the Greenout. “Californians legalized cannabis and they don’t realize they are still shopping on the black market.”

Right now, about 80% of cannabis sales still come from illegal sources. Sofios says there are three major problems with that – safety, health, and taxes.

First, health. Safe and consistent products are only available at licensed dispensaries. Illegal shops don’t require any product to be tested for harmful chemicals and contaminants like heavy metals, pesticides, mold, mite infestations, or residual solvents.

Second, safety. Unlicensed manufacturers are not regulated, so they can make products with packaging that is not child-resistant or labeled with the proper warnings and dosing information.

Finally, there are financial reasons that impact the state’s bottom line. Illegal shop sales are booming, and none of that revenue is going to the tax fund that voters overwhelmingly approved in 2017.

“It’s a bait and switch,” says Sofios. “Local cities should be flooded with millions of dollars to help our communities. Even if you don’t use cannabis, you should care about this.”

The Bureau of Cannabis Control has tried to shut down thousands of illegal shops, but they keep popping up again.

“Our feeling is that for legalization to work, consumers should support licensed retailers,” says BCC Spokesman Alex Traverso. “Some products are counterfeit. Some products may advertise a certain THC potency and be entirely inaccurate.”

The BCC just launched its own public awareness campaign to help drive home those points.

“We want to educate the consumer while also sending messaging to illegal operators, warning them that it’s time to get licensed or face the consequences,” says Traverso.

The Greenout Movement is the result of licensed California cannabis companies and community members joining forces to stop the black market. For a list of legal shops in California and to learn how to participate in the Greenout, visit www.shoplegalshops.com.