Here’s what B.C. has done so far to close illegal cannabis gap

In this Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019 photo, a clerk packs pre-rolled marijuana joints for a customer at the Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary, an unlicensed marijuana shop, in Vancouver, B.C. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

By Omar Washington

Two years after legalization, with illegal cannabis still cheaper in B.C. than legal alternatives, the province has made several moves recently to close the price gap and drive consumers into the legal market.

Statistic Canada reports legal bud in B.C. costs $9.32 per gram while it’s just $5.95 when purchased illegally. In Ontario, by comparison, the Ontario Cannabis Store has recently managed to drive the legal price lower than the black market. The average price of dried flowers on the OCS website is $7.05, considerably lower than an average of $7.98 on illegal mail-order sites.

In August, B.C. announced it would allow cannabis retailers to process payment online or by phone. Prior to this, consumers of non-medical cannabis had to pay and pick up in retail outlets. The changes also allow stores with more than one location to accept payment through gift cards across their locations.

Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General said, “We’ve heard from legal cannabis retailers that they want more tools to help increase competitiveness with the illegal market by allowing online sales.”

The BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB), often offers retailers limited time price reductions from producers, and gives retailers breaks on shipping rates, which can be passed on to consumers.

In September, B.C. announced a new initiative to remove the LBD from the equation all together – allowing legal small-scale producers to deliver directly to retailers.

The changes will also allow nurseries and growers to create “farm-gate” stores where consumers can purchase product directly from producers. Both initiatives will allow retailers and consumers to purchase legal cannabis for less, while being a boost for small producers.

– with files from Black Press Media

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