Legalization not pushing current cannabis users to licensed providers

Smoking in secrecy: Regular cannabis user Jay smokes in his home in Calgary on Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. Jay buys cannabis in-person from a dealer and didn’t plan to change his buying habit after legalization. Jay requested that his full name and face be kept out of this article. (Photo by Jake Cressy/The Press)

Some Calgary cannabis users say they have no plans to switch over to purchasing from licensed providers despite the arrival of cannabis legalization on Oct.17.

Two dispensaries opened in Calgary on the first day of legalization and more opened in the first week of legalization. But that didn’t seem likely to be enough to change the way past users buy their weed.

“If one way works, why change it,” said Jay, a user who resupplies from a variety of different people in the city, whom he meets in-person.

“I’m friends with my dealer so it’s an excuse to see them too.”

Jay said his dealer had given no indication that they intended to quit supplying him after legalization.

“If it’s harder for me to get weed off my sources now, then I’ll find a different source.”

The role of a dealer has diminished in recent years as many users simply purchased their supply from a friend, or a friend of a friend.

“It’s like a community for this stuff,” said Jay.

“Some sell [to anyone], some will just sell me some.”

Although there are still traditionalists like Jay who purchase their pot in-person, many users receive their product from Mail-Order Marijuana (MOM) businesses online.

Most of these online businesses require proof of a medical card in order for users to place orders.

Some users have taken it upon themselves to further redistribute the product they receive.

“I’m getting it for about $2 a gram so I’ve been selling it to friends at a huge markup,” said Jim, who regularly orders from MOM sites. He also spoke on the condition he not be identified.

Most of these MOM businesses also have indicated they plan to continue operating.

Jim said he’ll continue buying and selling as long as the price stays the same.

Not soon enough: The New Leaf Cannabis store in Kensington remained closed on Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. It remains unknown if and when this store will re-open to the public. A lack of opening day dispensaries was just one of the factors discouraging current cannabis users from switching over to a licensed provider. (Photo by Jake Cressy/The Press)

The price of legal pot is another factor dissuading regular users from switching sources.

Regular users are hoping the the advent of legal retailing will trigger a downturn in price.

“As far as I know nothing will change with my current sources, although I’m hoping with more competition their prices will drop,” said Calgary user GoOnBud.

GoOnBud is a member of “CalgaryTrees,” a message board on the website Reddit, which is dedicated to “sharing stories, tips and knowledge” about cannabis in Calgary.

Members of this community have issues with legal weed that go beyond the unknown price point.

The lack of storefronts, legal edibles, and public areas for consumption are sore points for members of the community.

“We’ve known legalization has been coming for two years. We’ve had at least six months to get storefronts ready to go,” said CalgaryTrees user stillyoinkgasp.

“They made it too difficult with too much red tape.”

The restrictions of cannabis legislation mean it takes more effort for regular users to legally partake in cannabis than to continue evading the law.

Cannabis users have been avoiding legal repercussions for decades and their ingenuity wasn’t likely to disappear after Oct.17.

“I re-use my licensed provider’s containers so I can legally walk around with technically illegal product,” said CalgaryTrees reddit user Grumpy_ent.

Surprisingly, these same users have spoken out against ideas that are seemingly favourable for them.

“Cannabis parks? C’mon, even someone who thinks cannabis is a good thing knows an open space park is a terrible idea,” said one post on the website.

Cannabis legislation is sure to change and adapt over the next few years to meet the needs of the public.

If one way works, why change it? – Jay

For now, some users are just happy to see any change.

“It’s a really new thing and it’s more important to have broad acceptance of the new rules than it is for me to get everything I would ever want,” said reddit user Findlaym.

Tools of The Trade: Two cannabis buds lie beside a collection of pot paraphernalia and a $20 bill in the home of a regular user in Calgary on Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. Current cannabis users are concerned that legal weed will be sold at a large markup compared to black market prices.. (Photo by Jake Cressy/The Press)
About David Cressy 2 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, David Cressy is working as a writer for The Press during the 2018-19 academic year.