While Canadians spent over $1 billion on weed / marijuana in the fourth quarter, only around 20% of that went to legal cannabis. Despite the product being recently legalized and sold via government stores. The reason? Product shortages and higher prices for the legal kind, whether medical or recreational. In Ontario, for instance, a dearth of brick and mortar cannabis stores has forced consumers to buy online to avoid high prices and frequent shipping delays. The legal cannabis industry has also seen a recent slowdown in sales of the dried flower after an initial spike.
Old habits die hard it seems. Most Canadians are still buying marijuana from the black market instead of legal government stores. Having talked to fellow Canadians about this, the situation is spot on: high prices due to taxes, and a lack of availability, particularly in provinces where it’s only sold online (with notorious shipping delays and mistakes), have turned consumers off. This means that governments are still missing out on potential taxes, while raising questions about whether they should indeed be in-charge of the shop.
The black market can almost surely beat the legal market on price. But that’s only one aspect of cannabis transactions. Legal markets beat the black-market hands down for quality and transparency: lab tests ensure product is not contaminated (pesticides, fertilizers, heavy metals, etc.) and indicate profiles of ingredients. Yes, there’s a lot of fraud in the legal market, making transparency opaque, but, hopefully, as the industry evolves, some of those problems will decrease. Of course, if all you’re looking for is a cheap high, the black-market wins hands down.
The world is just starting to get a feel of the many strains of marijuana that exist. It’s a time for people to try out various strains, brands and products before settling on their personal preferences. When the “big boys” get their act together and learn that cannabis is not just another ‘commodity’ and start to produce something worth the prices they charge, maybe. Most people want door to door delivery for $5.00 a gram. It’s just about the almighty buck.
The online recreation stores is and was a disaster, shortage didn’t help. Medical users which many thought was going to drop off, has increased. And will continue with many legitimate patients trying medical cannabis and finding great health results. There are also many recreational users getting their cannabis through the medical side.
People using online only systems have begun to stop. In anticipation of retail store openings. We have had many in person complaints. Over 100 in 30 days, about how the online system: takes too long, requires credit card use, and more. The people are eager for a face to face experience with cannabis.
We are not sure, where this industry is heading as of now. We will have to wait and watch.