Isaac estimates that about a third of all the cannabis grown in Colorado gets exported from the state. According to an August report compiled by a network of law-enforcement agencies, in 2012 highway police nationwide seized, in total, about three and a half tons of marijuana being transported from Colorado to other states. As long as there’s prohibition in other parts of the country, and as long as there are Coloradans who prefer not to pay the mark-up that legal stores will have to charge because of regulations and taxes, there will be illegal sales of marijuana in Colorado — perhaps comparable to the black market for cigarettes in New York City — and illegal sales and shipments to people living outside the state. Marijuana advocates sometimes argue that legalization in a state will eliminate its black market. That seems unlikely. But, Isaac argues, the state has a milder black market than it would have if marijuana were completely illegal.
“All the cartels want to do is make money,” Isaac says. “All I want to do is make good product, and make sure my friends have good product.” Selling a basement’s worth of weed for a couple grand per pound is enough to make a decent living, he says, but not enough to become fabulously wealthy.