Do cannabis consumers prefer quality over quantity?

Published Feb 24, 2020 12:00 p.m. ET
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This is an age-old question that’s had customers, producers, and the government in a battle over who is right and why. The truth is that if you were to ask around, you’d get a variety of different responses, as everyone has a different set of priorities, but one thing is for sure, because now that we have legal dispensaries claiming to sell the best quality cannabis products at inflated prices, the numbers are revealing the answers for us.

Sky-high prices and low-quality product result in very few sales

No matter what region you look at, the legal cannabis market isn’t faring so well, with prices that can rise up to 50% more than street market value. Some experts predicted this fast spiral downwards, but not everyone is convinced that the lack of sales is caused by the price alone. In fact, most cite shortages, cannabis desserts, and inability to buy with bulk pricing has important determining factors that help customers to decide where to spend their money.

Another important thing to consider is the sheer lack of products that are found on most legal dispensary shelves, with only a handful of weed strains ranging between 12% and 17% THC. Now, at first, that might not sound bad, until you realize that the average strain available on the black market is closer to 27%-30% THC. In case you were wondering, for most consumers, quality might translate to an uncontaminated consistent product, or only the most potent.

Legal dispensaries claim to offer the highest quality weed with rigorous testing and standards throughout the growing and processing of the plants, but their products aren’t the ones that are flying off the shelves. Unfortunately, a lot of it is not due to the inability to buy in bulk, because each individual can only carry a relatively small amount, but what is believed to be most responsible is the fact that it is rare to come across a bulk pricing option.

Black Market dispensaries flourish with more potent products


Canada is a really good example of this, as it has a bustling underground pot shop market that rakes in millions of dollars each year, easily three times more than legal dispensaries in the same region. Now, most black-market dispensaries and personal cannabis dealers sell a product that they have either sourced from an illegal supplier or grown themselves.

These cannabis plants are not grown under the same limiting conditions as legal weed, and yet, they seem to average a much higher THC range, and quality remains relatively equal across the board. Most cannabis consumers know that it’s possible to get a bit of mold in your buds, but it’s an incredibly rare occurrence, and a problem that isn’t limited to black market purchased products like some producers might like you to think.

In conclusion – What that means for quality vs. quantity

It really doesn’t take much digging to see that customers are getting a much better deal all around on the black market and that in terms of both quality and quantity, alongside a much more unique consumer-focused experience that includes enticing and useful products that aren’t available anywhere else. The truth is that no real cannabis enthusiast wants to sacrifice either quality for the other. We know better, we are watching an entire unsupported industry do better, and so we expect better from government-regulated cannabis.

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