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Cannabis consumers continue using dealers vs. licensed stores

Despite the sheer number of legal dispensaries in Waterloo Region, some users refuse to ditch their dealers
Cannabis in a jar
Stock photo

Marijuana has been legal in Ontario for three years now. Since then, multiple licensed dispensaries have opened within the region. In downtown Kitchener alone, there are 11 cannabis stores.

That hasn't stopped certain weed-smokers from leaving their illegal dealers though. 

Rachel Huggins is the deputy director for cannabis legalization with Ontario Provincial Police. She said that some consumers may be hesitant to take their business elsewhere due to a lack of information on the matter.

"The public may not be aware that some of the products they're purchasing through online sites or even through some store, are actually illegal," said Huggins. "I think they need to be better informed of the legal vs. the illegal market"

Some illegal dealers even make it more difficult to tell the difference. According to Huggins, many will make the products look appealing to people but putting them in nice packages with information on the labels to make them seem more legitimate. 

That's not the only way these deals are misguiding. Sometimes they will advertise a product with a high THC level when that isn't the case.

"The false advertisement is probably being used by the illegal market to lure people in. They're saying their products are better than the legal market's products when in fact, the testing proves that they're not truthful," said the deputy director.

Based on test results from a study that the National Research Council of Canada conducted, high levels of harmful pesticides were found in illegal drugs. Myclobutanil was the most dangerous substance found in the drugs seized by OPP. 

"It's really important for people to know that when they consume these products, there are risks and health consequences," said Huggins.

She also harped on the fact that it's important to put in the time and effort to research the dangers surrounding the illegal cannabis market.

"You don't know what's in them, you don't know where they're being produced, and there are serious health consequences."

Huggins also mentioned that the illegal dealers are probably using the money received to conduct other illegal activities.

"These people are criminals who are using the money to fund things like drug and human trafficking, as well as firearms.

OPP noted that the only way to purchase legal cannabis in Ontario is through the online Ontario Cannabis Store or in-person at an Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario authorized private retailer.

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