How to Properly Regulate Online Cannabis Stores
One issue with legalization we must face soon is the online sale of cannabis. While it’s technically still ‘illegal’ to sell weed online, many people are doing so. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to the idea of buying weed online, I’m thinking of the wellbeing of the cannabis community and movement as a whole.
You see, brick and mortar establishments have clear guidelines when it comes to cannabis sales. They don’t sell to minors, they have to adhere to certain quality standards and are typically very regulated. Online sales currently do not have the same requirements.
Hell, the other day a dude offered me weed through Instagram. Knowing that it’s completely illegal, and the fact that I can find good weed cheaper, I won’t buy.
But what about those online stores you can find on Google? Many of them are linked to legitimate dispensaries and businesses, while technically they can’t sell online, they are doing so. Unfortunately, the Vast Majority of those online stores are not linked to any dispensaries. These are individuals selling weed to other individuals online.
Unlike the Silk Road
By now you should know about the Silk Road, an online marketplace for all types of substances which essentially helped legitimize the use of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. The Silk Road had a dominating philosophy – They would sell anything to anyone, except the majority of the users would not sell to minors and would educate their users prior to selling.
Of course, some minors did buy drugs there and as a result, eventually law enforcement jumped in and sentenced a visionary mind to life in prison.
Since the shutdown of the Silk Road however, many other versions of the site started popping up all over the dark web. In fact, the shutdown of the Silk Road opened up the flood gates and there are a ton of illegal sites like that available right now.
The difference between these “newer platforms” and the original Silk Road is that the community providing the substances don’t adhere to the same philosophical ideology as the OG Silk Road Crew.
These new guys would sell crack to a baby if they had the chance. Of course not all of them, but it’s become infinitely easier to score drugs as a minor since the take down of the Silk Road.
Now, while the Silk Road was on the Dark Web, there are plenty of cannabis online retailers which can be found on Google. The problem here is that there is no oversight with the online retail of cannabis. We have established pretty solid rules for brick and mortar, but what about digital?
Solving the Problem before it becomes one
While many people won’t consider this aspect of legalization until it’s too late, it’s best to address the problem before it actually becomes one.
Online Retail of cannabis will become a norm in the near future. As more laws favor cannabis, it only makes sense that you’d be able to buy weed like you buy any other commodity online. What this will prompt is a few questions;
In the next section I’m going to start the conversation by providing my personal insights on these issues.
How do you know you’re not selling to minors?
This is probably the trickiest of the issues to deal with. Any kid with their parents’ credit card would be able to buy weed online. They simply have to fill out the form, buy it and have it delivered to their homes.
So what do you do?
Well, for starters we could force digital cannabis providers to have a verification process for their clients. You’d have to not only send in your credit card information, but you’d also have to confirm your identity. This could be done through a number of methods including, having users submit an official identification of themselves, a phone call to confirm the person is who he or she says they are and only being allowed to deliver the product to the person who ordered it.
There are many other sites that have similar processes in place to verify identity. This is actually a benefit to the companies themselves as they would have a real database of users who actively buy from them, allowing them to cater special deals to their user base. It’s technically a win-win for all sides involved.
Tracking the Source Material of the Digital Dispensaries
The next step would be to ensure that digital dispensaries have a clear cut path to obtaining their supply. Selling cannabis online might require a license like selling cannabis in the retail market. This would ensure that only legitimate providers that can prove their distribution sources to the government.
It allows for a bit more control over the production and sales and can help with tracking the consuming data of users.
Quality, Purity and the likes
This ties into the previously mentioned point. With a legal pathway to digital sales on the books, we could shape a digital community that follows State rules.
However, this point also is dictated by the very marketplace. If a digital dispensary sells bunk weed, the community will quickly out them as ‘bad providers’ and the marketplace would search for a more stable provider.
Thus, the community in conjunction with a bit of government oversight could ensure that the quality, purity and so forth is all on par.
The inevitability of Digital Dispensaries
It’s already happening and will only grow as more states opt in for pro-cannabis programs. This is something that we can address prior it becoming a “thing”. I’d love to hear your opinions on the matter, so go ahead and drop down your comments below.