Weedmaps dealt black market marijuana retailers a devastating blow earlier this week announcing it will no longer list unlicensed cannabis dispensaries on their directory. Legal marijuana shops, regulators, and legislators are applauding the decision as the platform allowed these black market businesses to undercut the legal market for too long.
Weedmaps was initially resistant to the idea of removing unlicensed cannabis dispensaries from their website and spent tens of thousands of dollars lobbying to fight legislation that would penalize them for doing so. They also pushed back against the California Bureau of Cannabis Control after they received a cease and desist order in early February to remove all marijuana retailers operating outside of the regulated market.
Their dispensary directory has been the go-to resource for cannabis consumers for almost two decades and with the expansion of legalization has secured their market position indefinitely. The Irvine based software giant released a press release on Wednesday that clarified their new policy.
Weedmaps will be “restricting the use of its point of sale, online orders, delivery logistics and wholesale exchange software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms to licensed operators exclusively. In addition, Weedmaps will explore ways to make it easier for patients and adult-use consumers to identify the license number on advertised listings.”
Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio is especially pleased by this policy change as she sponsored CA AB 1417 that aimed at fining Weedmaps up to $2,500 per day for each violation. While the bill was never passed, she was relieved to hear the news. She pointed out that, "As the illicit market continues to thrive in California, the legislation is necessary to crack down on illegal dispensaries, protect consumers from untested products and promote the legal market."
Weedmaps CEO Chris Beals did comment on the move away from unlicensed cannabis dispensaries saying, "These enhancements to existing safeguards on our platform will help patients and adult-use consumers find cannabis retailers that have provided evidence of state licensure.” He went on to add that, "It also underscores our commitment to working with lawmakers and regulators to foster a flourishing legal market."
The real winners of this decision are the hundreds of dispensaries who spent time and money jumping through legal hoops to receive a license. State, local, and excise taxes have made virtually impossible to compete with unlicensed cannabis dispensaries who evade these surcharges. Many retailers feel that this will finally give them that leg up on the competition they need to outlast the black market.