Even though cannabis became legal overnight in Canada on October 17, establishing the country’s legal retail industry could take months. In fact, access to retail storefronts is highly uneven across Canada, due to different rules governing cannabis in different provinces. Then, there’s the issue with product availability. So far only flower, plants, seeds, and oils are regulated for legal retail sale. As a result, unlicensed dispensaries are still the go-to source for many Canadian cannabis consumers, even with legalization. The Cannabis Act has been in effect for just under two weeks. And already, officials are beginning to recognize the immense task of driving out the unlicensed retail market.
Canada Confronts the Challenge of the Black Market in Cannabis
Officials say the legalization of cannabis has had somewhat of a chilling effect on “black market” activity in Canada. But not much. Instead, unlicensed dispensary operators and freelance dealers are taking advantage of the asynchrony between the law and the legal market to provide products and services Canadians still can’t obtain from licensed retailers. In fact, there are signs that unlicensed dispensaries are becoming more brazen in the face of a law.
Vancouver, British Columbia is a perfect example. On Oct. 17,