How Will Online Weed Shopping Affect Dispensaries?

Photo By Craig F. Walker / The Denver Post

Buy your weed through the web? The issue was recently analyzed by VolteFace, a British think tank that looks at alternatives to current drug polices.

The report’s author, Mike Power, opens by recalling that the first thing he ever bought or sold online was a bag of weed, back in 1971, long before eBay or Amazon were twinkles in Pierre Omidyar’s or Jeff Bezos’ eyes.

“…back in the days when data was delivered in a shrieking telephonic trickle rather than a broadband light beam, the first thing ever traded online was cannabis,” Power wrote.

Who knew?

The deal was struck over the then two-year-old network between students at MIT (Massachusetts) and Stanford (California), who connected through ARPANET, an early switching network that became the technical foundation of the Internet

“It is on these networks that the new cannabis industry will be built—by and for people for whom ‘digital culture’ does not now conceptually exist in any meaningful way, since everything many of us do is digitally mediated… with a tap or a swipe,” explained Power, the author of the popular book, Drugs 2.0: The Web Revolution That’s Changing How the World Gets High. “Why would drugs, and in particular, cannabis, be any different?”

Power says online ordering and delivery is the only sensible future for huge marijuana markets, such as those found in the U.S. and Canada.

He makes a compelling argument: “A controlled and regulated online market is both essential and long overdue in order to protect users from the risks of the illicit market; to limit access to younger users; to offer safer products and increase consumer choice; to develop less harmful products and safer routes of administration; and to control marketing and advertising in any eventual legal context.”

Interesting… but not so fast.

As Leafly points out, the situation already functions with companies like Eaze, which promises medical cannabis “delivered in minutes,” Tweed Mainstreet (Canadian), and California’s Speed Weed, to name a few.

How, after years of struggling to open their doors, will this affect the weed industry’s dispensaries? We hope not at all.

As dispensaries in the U.S. have evolved into welcoming havens staffed by knowledgeable people, who among us wants to see them close their doors in favor of a shipping warehouse?

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