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Why you shouldn't buy black market cannabis products

Published Aug 31, 2022 01:00 p.m. ET
iStock / Nuthawut Somsuk

Black market cannabis has been a thing we've relied on forever, but now that so many of us have safe access to legal products, it’s important for consumers to make the switch. We’ve talked about some of the moral reasons why it’s a bad idea and many of the health-specific concerns that come with dabbling in this unregulated industry. However, here, you’ll find all of the functional reasons why it’s best that consumers avoid it.

1. It encourages the bad behavior

Giving more money to the black market will only further encourage its continuous activity, much of which puts both its many workers and consumers at risk. If we want to stop this bad behavior, then we can’t keep encouraging it by throwing money at the problem.

2. None of what you buy includes taxes

Some consumers go to the black market because there they find rock bottom prices that are impossible to ignore, but much of that is because there are no taxes included in the equation. With so many municipalities promising to use this money to educate the masses, undo the damage caused by prohibition, and support community initiatives, it seems like a bad way to save a few dollars.

3. It allows brands to put contaminated products on store shelves

This unregulated industry skips almost every single step that’s required of the legal market, which puts its products and the customers that buy them at increased risk. Tested samples of black market cannabis products have shown to have everything from high concentrations of mould and fertilizers to added toxic metals, none of which is appealing to or good for consumers.

4. It puts the legal market at a disadvantage

Legal cannabis businesses jump through an incredible number of hoops to function in this industry, all while paying large amounts for everything from licensing to middle man fees. They must pay for testing frequent safety and compliance checks, and they have no choice but to do it all in a sterile temperature-controlled facility adding even more cost to the toll. This means that those who follow the rules are playing the game from a clear disadvantage, and is that something you really want to support?

5. It may support gang activity

Many black market suppliers are gangs or operators who function in much the same way, putting everyone from their employers to consumers at risk of being arrested or worse. Under these conditions, rights are often violated, and some of the worst people around are the ones that financially benefit from doing so.

6. Legacy players have had plenty of time to make the transition

We’re the first in line when it comes to supporting legacy players because they’re the real heroes who built the foundation for this legal industry to stand upon, but at a certain point, empathy for these businesses runs out because they’ve had plenty of time to save up money, get familiar with the process, and to ultimately make the switch to the legal scene. Emotionally, legacy vendors and suppliers will always hold a special place in our hearts, but financially, the logical choice going forward should always be the legal weed.

7. There are no guarantees

The unregulated industry provides no guarantees in terms of health and safety, and it’s not much more serious about transparency either because there is no one readily holding them accountable for lying. Whether it’s terpenes, THC or CBD content, there’s no way for consumers to be sure when they make purchases on the black market.

8. It puts the rights of medical consumers at risk

A lot of supporters of the black market don’t realize this, which is why we felt it so important to mention, because many of the producers that supply this unregulated industry are sliding in under the radar of law enforcement by claiming to be growing for medical patients. It is due to this practice that Health Canada and other regulators are looking to make it harder for real patient providers to qualify for a license. It might be nice to save a buck but it’s not worth it when the cost comes at the expense of those who need these plant products the most.

9. It’s illegal

The black market is just that, illegal, and there’s no way around this. Of course, there is a small niche grey market that may or may not be a suitable alternative, but anything less is simply criminal.

10. There could be dire consequences

Imagine walking into your favourite cannabis store only to find yourself in the middle of a raid. This is the experience of many unfortunate consumers, and it could be you if you’re not careful. Black market stores are illegal, and therefore simply visiting one puts your criminal record and finances at risk. Those who are caught might face jail time or fines, both of which will end up costing a whole lot more than making the switch to legal sources.

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