One of the biggest names in the cannabis industry just announced they would be asking all advertisers for their state license number for retail listings.
Essentially, that means all unlicensed cannabis services are to be nixed from the Weedmaps website in the coming months. Weedmaps announced the new move last week, and that left many licensed retailers excited. These retailers have been battling with the black market for years and have felt that battle in their bottom line.
Meanwhile, according to Weedmaps, they 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.” Moreover, the cannabis advertising giant said, “In addition, Weedmaps will explore ways to make it easier for patients and adult-use consumers to identify the license number on advertised listings,” according to a mjbizdaily.com report.
While some people feel that Weedmaps is merely capitulating to state regulators, others claim it’s because they actually want to promote the legal cannabis industry in California and not black market dealers and delivery operations. The CEO of Weedmaps, Chris Beals, told reporters that the new move is simple his firm’s “commitment to working with lawmakers and regulators to foster a flourishing legal market” and nothing more than that.
With that said, Weedmaps are still advertising hundreds of illegal cannabis storefronts, as well as more than a thousand cannabis delivery services. Jerred Kiloh, president of the Los Angeles-based United Cannabis Business Association, is pleased about the new move. “It’s good to hear. That’s all we’ve ever wanted,” he said.
He has also voiced his concerns about the site advertising illegal cannabis vendors and welcomed the announcement. At the same time, cannabis industry consultant Jackie McGowan also welcomed the new move. “Over the past two years, Weedmaps has continued to undermine the licensed industry by advertising illicit operators just as the newly legal market has attempted to expand,” she said.
She also referenced recent media reports about just how much damage the black market for cannabis was doing to legal outlets. “According to a report that came out just last week, the illicit market remains almost three times the size of the legal market,” she said. “Legal businesses deserve an even playing field, and that’s not possible when a technology platform plays both sides.” However, some want to see Weedmaps come good on their promise and hope it’s not just “hot air.”
As Nicole Elliott, senior adviser on cannabis in California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Office of Business and Economic Development said, “From Day One we’ve made it clear we want to support the legal market. This includes ensuring everyone is abiding by the law. Advertisers are no exception,” she added. “While this is a signal that Weedmaps seems to be taking our priority of compliance to heart, like anything, the devil is in the details.”
The transition from prohibition to legalization is a tricky and delicate one. Not least because cannabis is still a controlled and highly illegal substance according to the federal government even if it is legal at the state level.
As North America familiarizes itself with the new era of cannabis legalization, a learning curve was always expected, especially in the early stages of the transition. Weedmaps carries serious clout within the cannabis industry and now needs to take a responsible stand even if it costs them revenue in the short term.