Why Legal Cannabis Home Delivery Hasn’t Hurt the Black Market
States with legalized cannabis are not happy about the ongoing influence of the black market. Black market operators do not obtain licenses or follow state regulations. They do not report or pay taxes. They generally make it harder for legitimate operators to stay above board. There is little that regulators can do about it. Even legalizing home delivery will not make a difference.
Cannabis home delivery makes using cannabis more convenient. Whether in a medical-only state or a more liberal state where full decriminalization has been adopted, not having to make a trip to the pharmacy or dispensary is appealing to consumers. Still, it is not appealing enough to sway those people who would rather buy on the black market.
Count the Cost
Any reasons possibly explaining the strength of black market all go back to one thing: money. Black market operators and their customers both tend to like it. The operators continue to do what they do because there is plenty of money to be made. Customers keep buying from them because there is money to be saved. Illicit cannabis is the epitome of free market economics.
Utah is a medical-only state that has gradually worked over the years to improve access. Unfortunately, the Beehive State is largely rural. Outfits like Beehive Farmacy service urban areas, like Brigham City and Salt Lake City, but there are only fifteen licensed pharmacies in the entire state. All but one are in urban locations.
State lawmakers approved home delivery in early 2021 to make life easier on rural patients. But to date, there is only one company offering statewide delivery. Again, the cities are pretty well set with numerous delivery options. But rural Utahns are still left out in the cold. If they don’t want to spend an entire day obtaining their medicines, the black market is the next best option.
No Need to Deliver
One of the more fascinating aspects of the black market phenomenon is that operators don’t need to deliver to stay in business. Customers gladly come to them. Once again, it goes back to money. The convenience of home delivery is certainly nice. But home-delivered products from legally licensed dispensaries are almost always going to be more expensive. If you need to drive a couple of miles to get a much better price, that is what you are going to do.
The pharmacies are in a bad position here. Their hands are tied. They want to operate legally and above board. They want to do things by the book. Their competition does not, which is what gives black market operators a competitive edge. It is a lot easier for them to low ball on the price when they aren’t worrying about taxes, licenses, and most of the overhead that comes with a legal operation.
Home Delivery Is Still Good
None of this is to say that cannabis home delivery is a bad thing. It is actually a good thing, especially for consumers who want to do the right thing. Home delivery offers convenience. It offers a measure of privacy, too. It has generally been a good thing in states that have legalized delivery.
The other side of that coin is the black market thriving without delivery service. Black market cannabis will remain a popular commodity for as long as prices on legal products stay high. Furthermore, high prices are virtually guaranteed until the states start figuring out that taxation and regulation are not keys to prosperity. Until then, the benefits of home delivery will only apply to those consumers committed to purchasing from the legal operations.