Article by Mark Bonokoski, Toronto Sun
Back in my long-haired hippy days at college, which was the last quarter of the last century, the best dope dealers had hash from Lebanon and weed from British Columbia.
If it wasn’t B.C. Bud, it wasn’t worth wasting a match.
It appears to be the same today.
Recreational marijuana was legalized by the Trudeau Liberals in October 2018 but, according to Reddit, the specialist online site used by millions daily, many of Vancouver’s cannabis stalwarts still swear by their underground supply because legally-purchased marijuana at government-approved outlets is not worth the pot to blow it to hell.
A recent report by the Guardian said what we already suspected — that expanding black-market pot has brought major hurt to legit marijuana companies that are now in the midst of a meltdown.
Who would have thunk?
Certainly not investors. In fact, financial experts sunk a whack of their clients’ cash into legitimate marijuana companies, and were gobsmacked when the alleged “sure things” quickly began to tank.
And this was long before the COVID-19 crisis and stay-at-home mandates largely put the kibosh on the industry.
Canopy Growth, the biggest firm in the sector by value, was initially seen by stock analysts as one of those sure things.
But Canopy, as tracked by the data firm Y Charts, has seen its market capital fall from $24 billion in April of last year to just over $6 billion now.
Pandemic-induced stock market plunges have now likely made it worse, but the black market of pot dealers have forever been able to find ways to get their products to their respective clientele.
The North American Marijuana Index, which tracks listed stock exchange firms, has plummeted about 80% in the last year and is at its lowest value since 2016, which was before much legislation had taken place.
Most would agree the rush to roll out legalized marijuana by the Justin Trudeau government was a cockup from the get-go, and was aided by provinces like Ontario which unwisely had a lottery for retail outlets that failed miserably and still has the market in an under-served mess.
And so here we are, still likely engaged with our favourite dealer if he or she is not in quarantine because, to be blunt, the marijuana being sold in the government outlets — if you can find one — generally stinks.
The consensus on Vancouver’s cannabis-focused Reddit threads has the legal market struggling to attract clientele because its products are more expensive and lower in quality.
That’s why some Mohawk reserves — like Tyendinaga for example, which is a stone’s throw from Belleville — likely has more illegal pot shops among its smoke shacks than the province has legal ones.
Many, for the moment, are now wisely closed because of COVID-19.
“The legal stuff is garbage,” said a Reddit user.
Another said: “Friends don’t let friends smoke government weed.”
It’s no wonder, therefore, that Canadian government survey results released in February found 40% of the country’s marijuana consumers admit to having obtained their weed illegally since legalization.
In the nation’s capital, with a population of one million, I was able to locate only four legal pot outlets.
They’re nicely designed, have knowledgeable staff, but they realistically don’t have any product with black-market quality.