In a recent quarter of city business, Montreal, Quebec, Canada sold 5.7 tonnes of cannabis. More than 860,000 transactions were completed, generating around $40 million in revenue.
In Canada, the doors to legal marijuana buying were opened to the public on October 17, 2018. The government did not expect such a large influx of customers in the cannabis stores. But the Societé québecoise du cannabis (SQDC), which is responsible for the trade of marijuana in the province of Quebec, has a rigorous schedule: Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
In consequence of dead hours, the consumers press to find a cannabis product in the black market.
420WindyCity went to the downtown SQDC store in Rue Sainte-Catherine centre-ville, which is Montreal’s main shopping spot. The snow was down for the people, and the cars were noisy, but there was a long line to enter the store; there was energy to buy strong medicine. Steven Wayne* was in line, wearing a black raincoat with his hands in his pockets.
“The pot before legalization was very good, and the legal stuff is too, but if you don’t have a relationship with some type of local drug dealer, maybe the legal store is your only option,” said Wayne. “But this could be the slower method.”
Legal, recreational weed can’t defeat the black market product because the price regulations are strange. Jorge Alberternst* works at a call centre in downtown Montreal, and he smokes a lot of pot. Being a local in Canada, Alberternst can easily buy cannabis on the streets, the open air of drug hustling.
“Well, in the black market, the price depends on the quality,” said Alberternst. “When I don’t have too much money, I prefer to buy from my drug dealer…it’s cheaper than the legal store.”
Alberternst continued the conversation, giving examples of the price variation between the legal store and the black market. “For example, at the SDQC, I can buy 3.5 grams of Hybride Atlantis Flower for $34 Canadian,” he said, “but you can find the same pot at the same weight for $30 in the black market.”
Taking a drink of his beer, then taking a small breath, Alberternst continued, saying, “In the legal store, I can buy 15 grams of Hybride Atlantis Flower for $145.80, but the same type of pot at the same weight [in the black market] is between $100 and $140. The differences are plenty.”
If the price of cannabis continues to be cheaper in the black market, and the hours of operation continue to be unlimited, black market weed sales will never disappear. Yes, the quality might not be the same—actually, it works both ways—but some people prefer better economy over quality.
If the government wants to get illegal marijuana sales off the streets, then the dispensaries probably need to be more accommodating to customers. Whether that’s longer hours or lower prices, it might not matter. Jane Doe Dealer has probably been in business much longer.
Editor’s Note: Names from those who gave public comment were changed at the request of the sources (*).