Is your local marijuana dispensary meeting consumer's needs?

Published Oct 11, 2019 01:00 p.m. ET
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After federal marijuana legalization came into effect, it was expected that Canadians would be the very first to bear witness to many bustling recreational and medical marijuana dispensary storefronts. Though we can’t quite say how well, or poorly, licensed vendors are doing, the lack of a consistent flood of customers shows that most Canadians aren’t buying their products from the legal market.

Despite that massive celebration that followed the historical event, where cannabis finally garnered legal status as both a recreational and medicinal option, customer numbers are dwindling. Now that some of the initial excitement surrounding legalization has died down, most marijuana dispensary storefronts are nearly empty, and business owners are unsure of how to proceed and stay competitive in the legal market.

Average marijuana dispensary stock

One of the most notable issues with all cannabis dispensaries right across the country is the bare shelves and incredibly limited product choices. Most of the heaviest consumers had made the switch to more complicated and concentrated marijuana products like edibles, vape juice or shatter, but those options and many others probably won’t be found via a search of “dispensary near me” unless it is a black-market location.

That is because the current restrictions do not allow for much beyond dry cannabis buds and oils or products that have been arbitrarily selected by the Canadian government as a “safe” starting point for legalization. The only thing that remains consistent across the board of current marijuana product choices that are available in Canada is the fact that they all offer little more than mediocre levels of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC.

Unfortunately, low strength cannabis buds are one of the more minor problems that marijuana dispensary owners are facing in this brand-new industry. As consumers get more familiar with the options that exist, and better educated on the benefits of specific weed strains, they are becoming more selective in what they are willing to purchase. If you were to head on over to your local cannabis dispensary, then it wouldn’t take you long to notice the bare shelves with only a handful of strains to choose from, and all of these issues combined are leading to more customers to keep visiting black market shops.

Lack of medical marijuana dispensary locations

Have you ever visited your local marijuana dispensary to know how educated the budtenders inside might be? Now, for the average experienced recreational consumer, having access to a well-educated vendor might not necessarily be so detrimental, but for patients who are using cannabis as a medical treatment, it can make all the difference in the world.

Sadly, there are so few licensed stores in the country, and only a mere handful of those sparse locations are dedicated specifically to function as a medical marijuana dispensary, which has left thousands of medical cannabis patients in the dark about which strains to use, what might be the most effective, and without options or access to scientifically proven to be beneficial medical marijuana strains. Accessibility is a massive concern and one that needs to be addressed to further bolster the financial future of the cannabis industry in Canada.

Cost

Many people are struggling in this difficult time of ever-growing increases, to the cost of living with no real end in sight. Wages have remained stagnant for years, and the issue doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, which has left many Canadians with less disposable income. For some people, a visit to their marijuana dispensary is an act of either celebration or relaxation that is deemed as recreational, and that consumer base makes up the majority of existing customers.

The remaining group requires cannabis for medical purposes, and with many of our most vulnerable, including senior’s, the cost of buying legal weed is simply not affordable. No matter which side you consider, neither one can afford the incredibly inflated prices that are standard in your average marijuana dispensary. With legal cannabis currently sitting at an average of $10, and black-market products at nearly half that, it’s no wonder that so many customers are heading in another direction. Illicit dealers are also the only ones who currently offer bulk deals, which is one of the most harmful business moves, that the federal government has tried with marijuana so far.

Chances are the best rated “dispensary near me” isn’t licensed

If you take a moment to head over to Google and search for ‘dispensary near me’, it probably won’t take you long to find hundreds of different options within a safe distance by car, but do you know how many of them are legitimate, licensed and or reliable suppliers? This is a question that has been souring the opinion of many Canadians who were excited to finally gain access to cannabis through legal means, and it is one that no one really knows the answer to.

Most surveys have estimated an astounding 10 illegal dispensaries per every 1 legal location, which has many customers fearing for their safety and criminal record just to make a purchase. Then there is the problem of not knowing whether or not you can trust the source of your local marijuana dispensary. Since both medical and recreational users prefer to know what is going into their bodies, this alone has many potential customers steering clear of pot shops altogether.

In conclusion

No matter how you choose to view the situation, the legal marijuana dispensary market isn’t doing so well, and they have few to blame besides the Canadian government who seems to be dropping the bomb on this historical move. If there is any consolation for our current situation, it comes from knowing that the whole world is watching us very carefully, so we can hope that other regions world leaders don’t make these same mistakes. So far, consumers’ need, in general, are not being met, and marijuana dispensary sales figures will continue to decline until the industry proves that it can provide the service that we had initially hoped for prior to legalization.

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