The macro view of the supply chain of legal cannabis in Canada looks effective enough. When you zero-in however, you see the many problems. I’m sure to many on the outside, with the 35+ licensed producers growing pot like eager beavers, the so-called “black market” should dissipate in no time.
The supply will always and only follow the demand though. The underground economy will disappear when there are no more customers left without better access or price. As things stand today, many patients would rather buy street cannabis than buy from a legal licensed producer.
So let’s look at why a legal medicinal cannabis patient would buy street cannabis.
#5) Quality/ Safety Concerns
At the moment, pesticides are on the minds of many a legal cannabis patient. To many, this means they all must use them, and if this is the protection government regulation provides, then who needs it?
To others, the damage to the aroma-therapeutic terpenes that gamma-radiation leaves is clearly evident in the effects felt. I’m still waiting for the evidence that ingesting killed microorganisms is healthy!
A lot of patients have no confidence in growing a plant inside a factory. There are a lot of us who believe the sun cannot be replaced by a light bulb. There are many who believe that the plant truly thrives outdoors in the presence of millions of minute microorganisms, buried deep down in the ground. Super-sterile may never be the best way. Nature is balance after all.
#4) Choice/ Availability/Touchability
Most patients are locked into buying from one producer at a time, so when they have shortages, the patient literally suffers. The alternative is to switch producers, but this is about a two-week process. Many of us require THC and THC only at night to ease us into restful sleep. If you can’t buy this from your producer, what will you do? You’ll go to the other supply chain you know of. If you had a storefront that dispensed cannabis 24 hours a day like we have for pharmaceuticals, you’d likely go there.
It’s also difficult to break out of old habits like seeing and smelling your bud before you buy it. Online photos look pristine but by the time your buds have jostled around a truck for a day, they may look a little rough. It only takes one rough delivery that cannot be returned to sour even the most law-abiding patient.
#3) Delivery Failure
Delivery personnel countrywide have mixed up the meaning of the word “delivered.” Leaving the slip in your mail box is far from a job well done, especially if you’ve neglected to buzz up to us! This happened to me this morning as a matter of fact. No one buzzed my number. Luckily I actually ordered properly this month and had some left over, or I too may have had to break bad and call buddy for a quick interim supply.
#2) Credit vs. Cash
When your medicine is as expensive as cannabis is, it’s truly choking to know that it’s going to cost you to pay for it. Whether it’s the cheap $1.50 e-transfer fee or the interest on your credit card, it’s still more than you’d pay if you were able to pay cash. Buddy takes cash. Even the fact that we have to pay for someone to deliver it is infuriating when your contact on the street would likely deliver for free or even just meet you for coffee-talk.
#1) Free Credit
For a very long time now, the people selling us our cannabis gave us interest-free credit on a regular basis. I’ve known people who front a few grams now and then and I’ve had friends who front ounces weekly only to square up on pay day and start the process over. I’ve fronted many times in years gone by and my gratitude to those people is immense. The LPs won’t do this. Loaning a few grams till tomorrow is not something their stockholders would allow.
Of course, in Canada, we await recreational legalization and so the macro view once again sees that allegedly seedy black market disappear quickly. But it will go no where unless the need disappears, and the need will never disappear if we’re made to buy mail-order and factory-grown. We are green-thumbed Canadians! Stubborn too. After all, it wasn’t compliance that got us this far was it?
Please join my “Letters for Storefronts” initiative whereby we’re sending hand-written letters to our Members of Parliament demanding storefronts and an inclusive supply chain.