Why most Canadians still prefer black market cannabis

Published Jan 5, 2020 12:00 p.m. ET
iStock / HighGradeRoots

Recreational marijuana has been legal at the federal level in Canada for more than a year, but the cannabis industry is dying, leaving investors scrambling to come up with new ideas. A move that is essential to survive in the bleak legal market, but is it one that can truly save a company? Or are they all doomed to failure despite record numbers of consumers?

Only the future can disclose the answer, but chances are that the federal government will begin to see the changes necessary and implement them long before the legal cannabis industry collapses entirely, and come of them are obvious and stated over and over again by anxious consumers who are frustrated with several different aspects of current recreational marijuana providers.

What is the black market?

The so-called ‘black market’ is a fancy term for the way that consumers bought their cannabis goods prior to legalization. Nowadays, many recreational marijuana dispensaries are operating under the guise of a black-market dealer, which means to sell and distribute cannabis and infused goods to consumers without a license to do so. The black market consists of large-scale store sized operations and small individual dealers that make most of their sales out of their home. Currently, Weedmaps is one of the largest contributors to the current black market for weed in Canada.

5 reasons why Canadians choose black market weed

The best way to figure out what direction the government will need to go in is to look at the reasons why consumers choose the recreational marijuana vendors that they do. Here you will find a list of the top 5 reasons why most cannabis enthusiasts stand firm behind their support of the black market.

1. Affordability

Federal marijuana legalization did wonders for the average cost of recreational marijuana where you just won’t find those deals in the legal dispensaries, and what black market dealers did was to reduce their prices to remain competitive in a world full of fancy storefronts to maintain customers. Black market cannabis can cost as little as half of what a comparable product through a legitimate vendor would, and with so many low-income consumers, there is really no choice in the matter but to go with the one that they can afford.

2. Selection of strains

Regulated and licensed dispensaries in Canada can only sell products that have shipped from licensed cultivators. Those growers must also abide by strict regulations to keep strains and information consistent and reliable for consumers, but unfortunately, that often means that each company will only produce a couple of different strains, leaving the selection at the average recreational marijuana dispensary limited to an average of 10 or so strains.

Those that do try to offer more selection are facing the problem of not selling the products in time, which has left many of them with no choice but to carry the most available and most requests weed strains, leaving out rare and exotic options.


3. Convenience

When you buy weed online through a legal dispensary, most of the time, it will take a few days to get delivered to you. Customers often do not have the time to wait at home for a package to be delivered which requires a signature, and this poses a challenge to get cannabis during the week. For storefronts, not everyone has accesses to get there, which leaves many mobility-restricted cannabis enthusiasts or busy workaholics few options.

The black market is full of private vendors that are more than willing to go the extra mile for their customers, and that often includes free or reduced cost delivery that can be at your door in as little as 1-3 hours. Stoners might be known as patient people, but no one wants to face multiple barriers and a wait time to grab a few grams of weed.

4. Potency

Most people know by now that every cannabis strain is slightly different than the next, with some boasting such extremely high THC contents that they are more suitable for experienced users. Unfortunately, recreational marijuana dispensaries that are licensed carry products that max out around 17%, while black market dealers keep in stock some types of weed that can go all the way up to 30%.

Whether you are an experienced, long-time recreational consumer or a medicinal patient seeking relief from medical symptoms, a higher THC content is almost always preferred and yet rarely offered anywhere other than the black market.

5. Access to illegal products

There is no easy way to put this other than legal recreational marijuana dispensaries just don’t have the same variation of enticing cannabis goods, many of which remain illegal under federal law. Even now that weed edibles are legal, they contain minimal levels of THC and are incredibly expensive and ineffective for long-time consumers.

The evolution of the black market cannabis in Canada


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