LUDLOW, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Since November, those over the age of twenty-one have been able to buy marijuana for recreational use in dispensaries.

For many, the pot prices at those dispensaries are high, and police departments are still finding people selling the drug illegally.

"Convenience, you know? A lot of folks don't have transportation to get up to Easthampton or even to Northampton, and the convenience of just going to a local dealer on the corner is still there," Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi tells us.

Cocchi says that, when he asks inmates at the jail about the price of street weed in the springfield area, it's relatively status quo for now.

"What I do hear is that, when the marijuana dispensaries come to Springfield, that could be a potential problem for the illegal sale of marijuana on the street corners," continued Cocchi.

He says the dealers understand the importance of supply and demand at a price point competitive with dispensaries.

"They do understand, to stay in business, they have to provide a product, and the product has to be needed and a desire to pay for that price," stated Cocchi.

We spoke with a former buyer and occasional dealer of illegal street weed.

He didn't want to show his face on camera, and we're only identifying him as "R".

He is currently an inmate at the Hampden County jail.

"R" says he has noticed a change in the street price.

"I smoked weed, me personally, so I know, from the time I was in, 2017, bailed out after four months, and by the time I got home, weed had dropped tremendously. An ounce usually cost $200, but I could get an ounce for $100, $150. I have seen prices on the dispensary websites. They are ridiculous. They're, like, two times, maybe three times more than what you can get on the street," says "R".

"R" believes that the opening of dispensaries in Springfield may increase attempts by illegal dealers to sell their product .

"Might even sit across the street from a dispensary, catch folks coming out and say, 'Look man. I got this,'," said "R"

When law enforcement comes across those street dealers, Sheriff Cocchi says the way officers approach them has changed.

"I definitely think that the legalization of marijuana has changed the playing rules, as far as how you can utilize informants, how you can get, sometimes, a low-level marijuana dealer on the street corner to pop up and give you better information on some higher level, more harder substance dealer." stated Cocchi.

"R" believes that, since the dispensaries opened in November, they've only separated the haves from the have-nots.

"Maybe older people or people who are upper class, people going to the dispensary and getting their weed. They don't want to deal with what might be, somebody might lace them or whatever the case may be," added "R".

Copyright 2019 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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