The cannabis black market is still active in Toronto, despite legal stores opening across Ontario on Monday.
October marked the legalization of cannabis in Canada, but there was no supply unless you wanted to buy your buds online. People had to wait almost six months to legally purchase from a cannabis store.
With legal storefronts running, it could be expected that black market dealers would disappear. But sources say they aren’t losing their customers, and have no plans to quit selling weed.
“Where evidence exists to suggest links to organized crime, the TPS would never rule out laying federal charges,” said a Toronto Police Service spokesperson in an email response to the Observer. The police said that they’re instead using municipal laws to shut down illegal dispensaries.
The purpose of this approach is to “devote the vast majority of drug enforcement to those involved in the illegal trafficking of narcotics” instead of using federal resources to address the issue.
However, these regulations may have given black market dealers an advantage.
“The prices at the stores are ridiculous,” said a dealer who did not want a name used and has been selling weed for more than 40 years. “And that’s just going to keep the black market active.”
In the dealer’s opinion, the government’s legalization of weed was an attempt to make more money.
“They are cashing in just like everybody else is. But when the wind blows it over, the black market will thrive even more,” he said. “Dimes have always been, and should always be, $10. And the government is jacking up prices and adding tax. What do they think? Their weed is made out of gold?”
One of the dealer’s customers, who used the name “Melanie,” is 29 and has been buying on the black market since she was 12. She says price is one of the reasons black market dealers have no shortage of customers.
“On the streets its $10 a dime,” Melanie said. “And no tax.”
However, she also said she would prefer to have more details about what type of cannabis is being purchased on the street.
“At the dispensaries they have everything marked,” Melanie said. “They have the quality of it and the names of it, whereas on the black market they just tell you what it is but they don’t always know the quality of or it is even what they are saying.”
The dealer criticized the regulation of cannabis sales.
“It’s got all these rules and regulations now. You have to jump through hoops now,” he said.
Controlling cannabis like alcohol also came in for criticism.
“You don’t see people smoking a joint and beating the crap out of each other do you?” the dealer said. “That’s alcohol’s domain. Weed shouldn’t have the same rules as alcohol.”
He has no plans of trying to sell it legally though.
“What do I have to do get a licence?” he asked. “That’s just another cash grab.”
Selling weed has always been the dealer’s only source of income. Now that the government has taken over, he hasn’t changed his daily operations and doesn’t fear getting caught any more than he did when cannabis was illegal.
“I’m going to sell weed till the day I die,” he said.