Cannabis is selling illegally in Canada at half the price of legal bud
Legalization is intended to solve a lot of problems with cannabis: It’s meant to stop the unjust and racist laws that prohibit the drug, it’s meant to allow people to make a legal living off of growing, making and selling the drug, and it’s meant to give patients and users legal access to a drug that could help them improve or enhance their life. Though legalization does solve a lot of problems, it also comes with some problems of its own, unfortunately. And one of those is rearing its ugly head in Canada. Because of the taxes and bureaucracy around legalization, legal cannabis is being priced way too high, resulting in an illegal market that’s still thriving, and offering product at nearly half the price as legal outlets.
Legal cannabis in Canada is selling at about $10.65 per gram (which still isn’t too bad), but that price is rising, while the price on illegal cannabis, down at $5.93 per gram, is steadily falling. This can be problematic, both because a strong illegal market might undercut the progress of the legal market, and because illegal cannabis often doesn’t have to go through the tests and certifications that legal cannabis does. Illegal cannabis may contain pesticides that legal cannabis can’t use, or illegal edibles or tinctures may contain dangerous ingredients that would normally be tested for in the legal market.
The solution here won’t be found overnight — it will take time, both for the emerging cannabis market to settle down, and for the legal market to find efficiencies and the right balance of regulations to help supply meet demand at the right price. The balance will have to be careful as well — if legal cannabis is regulated too strictly, then the illegal market will continue supporting the problems that legalization was supposed to prevent. If regulations aren’t strong enough, however, then cannabis products could be shoddy or even dangerous, and that’s not good, either.
This is an issue in California right now as well, where high prices are encouraging illegal dispensaries and growing operations, even when those activities are allowed under the law. Hopefully, authorities will be able to make some smart moves here, and help find a balance that allows cannabis to flourish in the legal markets, while still keeping the price low enough to prevent illegal competition.