Canadians With Access To Legal Weed Are Still Buying Under The Table



Across the southern border, millions of Americans are gaining access to legal marijuana for the first time in decades. Though it remains illegal at the federal level, having been classified in 1970 as a “Schedule 1 substance”, most states now have legalized some form of marijuana, and many will vote on additional deregulation this year. Although the US government’s official stance on cannabis is that it is both highly addictive and without any medicinal value, that view has not been credible for ages, if indeed it ever was. Enforcement of cannabis laws in the US, as in Canada, has been quite sporadic of late.

Here in Canada, though, the conflict around marijuana sales is a little different. Instead of worrying about arbitrary borders turning a legal medicine into a felony offense, Canadians are facing a more traditional consumer’s dilemma: “Which stores should we patronize?”

Although Prime Minister Trudeau and his Liberal party have vowed to legalize cannabis for recreational use, that legislation is still in its infancy. In the meantime, so-called “compassion clubs” are continuing to operate in a quasi-legal, deregulated market that allows expansive product lines and minimal markups that the burgeoning legal cannabis industry simply can’t match. And dispensary operators are taking notice.

Licensed producers, who distribute marijuana by mail, note they must comply with rules set by the former Conservative government, increasing their relative costs.

“We’re basically competing against a store that buys their product from whoever is growing it in their basement,” said Denis Arsenault, CEO of producer OrganiGram.

While established, unlicensed clubs set up storefronts with physical displays and helpful neighborhood “budtenders” at minimal risk of legal repercussions, the corporate competition is, for now, limited to mail order shipments of dried herb. In 2014, HuffPo profiled CALM, a Toronto-area club, whose proprietors were unconcerned about the influx of rubber-stamped competition on the horizon. Their status as medicinal marijuana trailblazers (having opened for business in 1996) would set them apart, they said.

The Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries has laid out a code of conduct for its members that includes requirements to obtain medical documents (not necessarily from Health Canada), enact quality control measures and manage inventory effectively, among other standards.

“We’ve been just kind of waiting for Health Canada to do the kind of system that we can take part in and that will help our members. We’re still waiting for that,” said Jamie Shaw, one of the board members of the group.

Today, CALM is still waiting. But some customers are beginning to get impatient.

7 responses to “Canadians With Access To Legal Weed Are Still Buying Under The Table”

  1. QN says:

    Great post. For those looking for the USA /Oil / Plastic / systemic racism truth, about Hemp and Marijuana USA attempted control of the world, have fun researching, start with WW2 or Nigeria/Shell. Or even Jamaica who all of a suddenly wasn’t allowed to grow MJ and US helicopters flew over many indigenous plants and trees killing everything with incredibly harmful pesticides destroying their land and some people!
    For those that need medical marijuana know that laws are rapidly changing both federally and within Ontario. Under PM JT, it is a Supreme Court decision that it is against Human Rights to not Allow all licensed people to grow their own at home, bye bye Con old law. And in Ontario all licensed people are allowed to carry their labelled medication even rolled and ready, Everywhere. And large venues like ACC, Skydome, or whatever it’s called now, CN Tower all must provide not only entry, but re-entry and a proper space to smoke / vaporize, etc and re-entry as often as required. I believe this is the AODA laws that apply to the majority of employers, retail, schools, etc. in Ontario.
    People with medical needs can no longer be discriminated against legally in Ontario. Interestingly one of the family members that wasn’t denied entry to CN Tower had a labelled and prescribed incredibly addictive opiate! CN Tower has of course apologized, admitted that the ‘staff person’ wasn’t sufficiently trained, promised to rectify, offered free tix, transport, hotel etc to the family. IMHO it will take a bit of time for others to adapt to the new laws.
    And finally again I believe only in Ontario insurance providers like Sun Life Manue Life Blue Cross, must PAY for legal marijuana or reimburse you according to your plan, but they MUST PAY for legal prescribed MJ just like every other prescribed ‘pharma drug / medicine’ . It is the LAW.
    Thanks again for posting this valuable original post you are one Smart Canuck.

  2. Maggie says:

    Please, why do we as SC’ers have to start posting stuff like this on the Blog? I am here to look for deals on food, clothing and things pertaining to that.

    Please someone, take this post down ASAP!

  3. Informative is good says:

    Surely a little bit of “public” information is valid. If all this blog was only about food and clothing deals it would be a dull, one-sided read. Frankly, if one doesn’t one to read then one just passes it by.

    • BHL says:

      So you would expect to see this same story on say the NHL website? of course not… it’s irrelevant to hockey… much like it’s irrelevant to this site. It might be subject to the general discussion forum, but it has no obvious place on the front page.

      • QN says:

        It is incredibly relevant to me and many other SC’ers. No different than a product recall or potential contamination in medicine, plastics, makeup, creams, etc. Again, it may not be important for you personally, but it is for me personally and I am so grateful for all the incredibly important health information it provides and commentary it encourages. Peace.

  4. Dudester says:

    Marijuana has very few proven medical benefits and is being touted as a cure-all for everything under the sun. People like to
    get high and here’s a way to legitimize their dependencies under the guise of a “treatment”.

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