Legal, Black or Gray Market Cannabis? Why Gray Is The New Balance

The cannabis movement has come a long way in the last 5 years, especially here in Canada. The Cannabis Act was passed in 2017 which legalized recreational cannabis use nationwide.  Nobody would ever think we would see this happening 20 years ago. 

There has been a stigma around cannabis for decades.   Growing up, you’ve likely been told by your parents, educators, and other authoritative figures that weed is a drug. Also, drugs are addictive and terrible for you so you ought to avoid it no matter what. It appeared well and good for them to feel that way. Since weed was illegal and it was a criminal offence just for having possession of it. We have been conditioned to believe since the government made it illegal then it was bad for us.  For people who have not used cannabis or those people who are conditioned to believe it is a gateway drug; which will lead to using harder drugs like meth, cocaine or crack.  Drinking alcohol is far more dangerous and harmful than cannabis.   All things considered, shockingly, you and a huge part of society have been swindled. 

The Medicinal Benefits Of Cannabis

The significant issue is the ignorance of the medicinal effects of cannabis.  With increasingly more studies and research being done on cannabis, the public’s impression of cannabis was gradually shifting.  A major turning point was in 2013 when the chief medical correspondent for CNN, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, made a critical announcement. “We have been terribly and systematically misled for 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that.” Dr. Sanjay Gupta a doctor once well known for his opposing views on cannabis is now saying that cannabis has “very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works.”

How Legal Cannabis Affects The Black Market

Now that the government is regulating the cannabis industry, it is trying to stomp out black market cannabis.  Most of us will agree that the war on drugs, let alone black market cannabis is a lost cause.  As the drug trade continues to thrive and the authorities have barely made a dent in the war against drugs.  

No matter what option you choose to get your weed there will be pros and cons.  One of the government’s issue with legalization of marijuana is attempting to tell consumers, who purchased before it was legal. That they should purchase from approved licensed suppliers.  Long time consumers that been smoking from online dispensaries long before legalization, will be the hardest to convert over.  They have been buying from the black market and highly likely will continue to do so.  Many consumers sourced their cannabis for medical and recreational needs with online dispensaries. As it provided a safe and discreet way for them to purchase cannabis even before legalization. 

Is Legal Weed Better Than Illegal Weed?

 What the government did was create their own new clientele by legalizing it.  There will always be “should buy legal vs illegal” debate. However, it shouldn’t even be a debate. If a consumer that never smoked black market reef or any weed before; they should not be telling individuals that purchasing black market weed is bad.

Legal cannabis will supposedly be regulated, everything is lab tested, following strict food and health safety regulations.  With the regulatory agency Health Canada backlogged with cultivation, processing, and sales license applications.  Due to the enormous amounts of applications, some Canadian provinces have been slow to approve physical retail dispensary licenses. With few retail dispensaries for consumers to shop at, illicit black market marijuana has filled the void. 

Legalization And Licensing Is A Slow Process

This is why the gray and black market dispensaries are not going away.  However a person that grows their own marijuana for personal use will make sure their weed is clean and top notch as well.  In the long run this is a positive, that the legal market is setting the standard for great clean weed, but we all know how great the legal cannabis is right now.  Not all legal weed should be even smokable.   Getting a license to sell and commercially produce as mentioned may be a long and daunting task with many restrictions and regulations that make it difficult to obtain.

Government cannabis is more expensive due to the licensing and regulations which drives up the price and then the quality is inferior to the black market alternatives.  Therefore, it just forces consumers to continue to go to their suppliers.

Why Cannabis Is Good For The Economy

Supporting legal cannabis helps the economy by collecting taxes and creating employment, but the cons of only legal suppliers will be higher prices due to the government monopoly that will be created eventually.  A monopoly in any industry is never good for the consumer and is prohibited against the law.  This is why the gray market could be a good thing depending how it is operated and run.  Any business depends on how it’s operated and run in the end.

The government will always try to target the black market because it’s unregulated, no taxes for them to collect, the money could be funding gangs and terrorist.  It also could be a legitimate grower that has a passion to provide the best chronic to their friends, family and consumers but has had years of experience only to be denied a license as they did not get selected in the cannabis retail lottery.  Even if you have met the criteria with a solid business plan and high hopes, with no bad intentions or supporting gangs, it will still be labelled as the black market due to the fact you don’t have a license now. This is where the gray market comes in now.  5 years earlier it was either black or white but now we have a gray market.

What Is Legal or Illegal Cannabis?

The gray market is the balance cannabis consumers need if run properly.  They will find a way to find the best available products and offer fair prices for everyone.  The product should be premium for each price range and not just stuff that you’re not willing to smoke yourself.  As a gray market customer you are paying through the bank like electronic funds transfer and not cash, the store has to pay taxes on it as well just like any regular retail business.  Another positive thing is legitimate gray market stores should be purchasing from reputable and experienced black market or gray market growers who have strict quality and production protocols in place.  This can lead to growers paying and collecting taxes as well.  It’s legitimately the only way the government will get a piece of the black market that will always exist.


There will always be black and gray market producers.  Which in turn benefits the government because now the black market growers and suppliers have converted to the gray market business model by paying taxes and hiring employees.  Just because the gray market is not licensed, it does not mean they are not doing their part for society.  There will be some shady gray market stores out there, but that’s with any business. 

In the end we need to keep the legitimate gray market stores alive to keep the prices fair, more options and alternatives for consumers and as long as the legitimate gray market dispensaries continue to source premium products and pay taxes, I have no problem supporting gray market dispensaries.  As long as you find a reputable gem as there are hundreds to choose from, make sure to hold on to your treasure!  Maybe in the near future when the licenses are easier to obtain then the gray market may be fully legalized, but I do not believe that will be anytime soon.  It’s a regulated product so they will restrict handing it out to everyone.  In the end that’s not good for a business that’s based on supply and demand.

Arron Gray

I am a cannabis connoisseur and entrepreneur for over 26 years. I enjoy all things cannabis and have a passion for writing on topics I strongly have an opinion about. 

The views and opinions expressed on The Great Canadian Reef blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

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