Despite legalization on paper, a limited number of corporations in Canada are allowed to grow the cannabis that ́s approved for sale.
This bottleneck has brought about a fi erce supply shortage problem for legal retailers – and enabled “black market” dealers to prosper where law abiders stumble. Hence, private independent cannabis sites are shutting down shop across Canada, dismayed lawful entrepreneurs say.
Firstly, there are strong reasons why Canadians prefer to buy their cannabis in person from trusted dealers rather than on the open internet, observers says. Buying in brick and mortar stores or on the black market gives consumers a chance to ask knowledgeable staff useful questions, says Toronto-based cannabis activist Abi Roach. Also most Canadians are terrifi ed about online data capture and privacy issues if they purchase on websites. A cannabis use record is enough to deny a Canadian entry into the USA.
This brings an out an amusing scenario. Just Google “buy marijuana online in Canada.” The results are interesting. The search page returns page after page of links to black market cannabis sellers who pan the product at decreased prices than those offered at lawful online stores.
Chris James, a Toronto-based cannabis entrepreneur who ran the delivery service Weedora in Ontario Province, Canada ́s economic engine, said he personally knows cannabis traders who have given up hope that they will ever obtain the provinces’ limited number of retail licenses. “They have chosen to open unlawful online dispensaries,” he explained, as Canadian Police usually dedicate resources to clamping down on physical dispensaries, so illegal online stores continue unscathed.
The black market is the friend of unlawful online vendors. Such vendors can sell higher –quality weed obtained from the underground producers who face zero of the supply issues bedeviling the legal industry. “Black market dealers, on and offline, have no costs associated with regulatory compliance and a much lower risk of running into trouble with the law. And despite stiff competition from the black market, legal marijuana is more expensive, thanks to limited supply and cost of staying on the right side of regulations,” James adds.
The remaining few cannabis licensed in operators will fi nd themselves thrown out of business if the provincial governments across Canada don’t loosen their regulations and make it easier for entrepreneurs, says James. “They don’t know the threat that ́s looming online, I mean the competition from black market sellers. Lawful traders are making peanuts compared to underground sellers.
”James is still hoping he will be one of the lucky few to be awarded a license. “I have shut down my lucrative black market online cannabis business, including the delivery service Weedora, in the hopes of getting a chance to run a legal store. However the decision has been utterly miserable.”He explains. “I opened a coffee shop in downtown Toronto called Coffee and Cannabis, making to do with sales from coffee in anticipation that he ́d get a license to sell cannabis.”
He was disappointed. Ontario provincial government dished out licenses haphazardly in its second lottery in August. James didn’t get rewarded. Funnily an address associated with “Café”, a Toronto dispensary shut down by police, did. James has shut down his Coffee and Cannabis store to repair it while he still prays that he will be awarded a license eventually when the province government realizes a system that rewards people who have no experience, or are active participants in the black market is a terrible idea.
James is furious about the fortune he has lost while trying to play by rules and be a lawful cannabis trader. “It ́s been a complete reversal,” he says of his life as a black market dealer compared to life as a would-be legal cannabis trader. “I didn’t get into it for money, but it ́s gone from where I was making enough to survive and pay my bills and pay my rent to, now, I am just losing money waiting for the government to get its act together and hoping I ́ll recover that money in the long term.
”He laughs, “Meanwhile the Ontario province government goes out to reward those who don’t bother observing the laws.”Meanwhile, the cannabis black market continue to roar ahead. It delivers 80% of Canada ́s annual $5.9billion in house-hold spending on cannabis, according to Statistics Canada. “Legal weed traders have a mountain to climb,” noted James
Published and Written By Ray Mwareya In Weed World Magazine Issue 145