Informed High - Becoming Informed about Cannabis

Buying Legal Cannabis Online: Canada and Beyond

Buying Weed Online

So as I’m a bit sick of talking about COVID-19, I thought I would talk about something totally unrelated. Sadly, this topic is still related, as many Canadian consumers are facing additional restrictions on physical stores and having to increasingly look online. That said, this is the last time I’ll mention COVID-19 in this article (thank goodness). This article will begin with a look at some general issues facing online cannabis purchases. After that, we’ll discuss what it is like, along with the Pros and Cons of buying weed legally online. 

Canadian Cannabis Deliveries

There is a big world online, with plenty of options to buy items both legally and unlawfully. In Canada, all Canadians have access to legal Cannabis online. That said, some of the supply and shipping aspects may be problematic for the more secluded individuals. There are also some oddities produced by the seemingly random border. Some towns are accessible only via the US, such as Campobello Island. This small eastern Canada island off the tip of New Brunswick is only accessible via a bridge that connects it to the state of Maine. 

Due to trucks having to drive more America to complete their deliveries, this had led to increased border searches for Cannabis. It should be noted that the Canadians that live here have the same right to access medical Cannabis as the rest of us up here in the Great White North. US border agents also have a right to search vehicles moving through their territory. This tricky situation results in Canada Post asking for Cannabis producers to stop shipping medical Cannabis to patients in Campobello. I’m sure you understand that taking away peoples’ medicine is not a great solution to this problem.

If only a ferry could transport Cannabis from Canada onto that island. Until then, I don’t think recreational Cannabis will be shipped there, and medical Cannabis will be harder to get. This oddity aside, most Canadians have reasonably good access to recreational Cannabis online at this time. The online buying experience may be new to many out there. The online buying of legal Cannabis is an entirely new experience only initiated after Canadian Cannabis legalization on October 17, 2018.   

first legal cannabis purchase online

Background of the Canadian Cannabis Supply Chain

For those who don’t know, Canadian medical Cannabis can be purchased from producers who ship directly to patients. This differs from Recreational Cannabis, which is sold online by Provincially-run monopolies (except for like one Province). All Cannabis grown in Canada is done by licensed producers under our federal laws, called the Cannabis Act. This legislation set the guidelines for getting licensed and allowing Provinces and Territories to control the distribution and sales of Cannabis within their borders. 

The rest of this article will discuss what it is like to buy online, the pro’s and con’s, and further practical information. While it is Canada-specific, many American’s who can buy their weed online will find useful content here as well. 

What is it like to buy Cannabis online?

The first thing I must point out is that buying legal Cannabis online is a great feeling. To be able to access this newly legalized product online without stigma or back-alley dealings is terrific progress. It is empowering to complete this freshly accessible legal right, without any fear of persecution.

I also miss out on some of the best parts of buying weed in person. I do miss my old medical dispensary, where I could see and smell the marijuana before deciding which one I wanted. I could also choose exactly how many grams I wanted, something now not as flexible when buying online. There are set container sizes, and you have to hope the strain you want comes in the size you’re seeking.

Opening my first legal cannabis purchase online

The Pro’s and Con’s of online cannabis delivery

Considering the average Canadian consumer (or elsewhere), here are what I view as some of the Pros and Cons of buying Cannabis online:

Pros:

  • Lots of product choices, constantly growing offerings
  • Access to products from all over the country
  • Reliable and legal
  • Take all standard payment options
  • Privacy is rather secure
  • Ability to sort through based on preferences (indoor grown, organic, etc.)
  • Medical patients can apply for tax credits with the receipts
  • You know taxes are paid on your purchase and throughout the supply chain
  • You know employees have all the same rights as other employees in Canada
  • You can figure out the entire supply chain, know where your Cannabis is coming from
  • Don’t need to apply to seek any approval, just make an account
  • A growing number of accessories and smoking devices also available
  • Supporting Canada Post feels good, it’s also fun for them to be your drug dealer now

Cons:

  • Lack of competitive prices and presence of competitors (you have to buy through your provincial wholesaler)
  • Can’t smell or see actual bud before buying
  • Can’t know the exact THC/CBD % or packaging date
  • Don’t have knowledgeable budtenders to talk to in person
  • Have to walk yourself through the entire buying process
  • Maximum of 30 grams per order
  • Paying delivery costs, minimal delivery options
  • Limited or none existent return policies
  • Have to wait to smoke the weed you just bought

Practical Tips for Buying Marijuana Online

Do some research before buying. If you want a head-high for daytime smoking, start with Sativas. If you want couchlock or to sleep like a baby, Indicas are the place to look first. Think about whether you want Cannabis grown indoors, whether you care about it being organic, and factors like that. For concentrates and edibles, think about how they make that product, and what factors you care about. 

Government information packet on the Cannabis Act

Cannabis Product Types

Research the various delivery methods, and determine which is best for you. You can smoke, vape, eat, drink, and more with the legal offerings now available. Based on your situation and preferences, determine how you want to get high.

Understand the THC/CBD Numbers

On all products, you’ll find information about how much THC and CBD are inside the product. The number you want to focus on is ‘total THC/CBD’. This defines how much THC/CBD the product will have if used as intended (smoked or vaped). The dried flower contains compounds (THCA and CBDA) that need to be converted with heat to become active in your body (called decarboxylation). Sadly the percentages used for Dried Flower are often rather large ranges.

You also won’t be able to know where your exact container falls inside that range until you get it delivered. Vape products will show the total THC/CBD inside the cart, while edibles show you the per piece and total per container (which is capped at 10 mg of THC right now). Oils will tell you the THC/CBD per ml of oil, but may not show the total. You may have to do the math, and multiple the number of ml’s in the container by the THC/CBD per ml.

cannabis THC and CBD label guide

The Dried Flower equivalency Formula

While there are some issues with it, Canada has created a flower equivalency standard. This means that each product is given a dried flower equivalency so that you can track your cart and keep your order at or under 30 grams. It can seem confusing beverages equal to 5 grams of dried flower. In comparison, a powder-based product is equal to 0.03 grams of bud (when the powder has five times the amount of THC). I hope they work out some of these kinks, but for now, all you need to do is try to pick what you want while staying under the limit. Most of the online websites will track the amount for you, so check your cart to see where you are at and how much more weed you can buy. Capsules will show the amount of THC/CBD per pill and may or may not describe the total THC/CBD inside the container. 

Upon Arrival through Recycling

Expect to pay a delivery cost, although some provinces have reduced or removed that cost during this current crisis. Delivery may also be slower than usual. You will have to provide your date of birth to access the websites. You’ll also have to create an account to make a purchase. Upon arrival at your door (or when you pick it up from a Canada Post office), an adult will have to sign for the Cannabis to prove proper age. Sadly, you can expect a bit too much packaging for the box and the product containers. Recycle what you can, and keep those containers as they can be recycled at many cannabis retail stores.

Recycle those cannabis containers

Product Recalls

The websites will also provide information regarding, and product recalls that have been issued. Check out those notices to see if you’ve purchased anything that falls under the recalls. If so, give them a call and see how they want the process handled. You’ll likely have to send back the product for safe disposal. Sign-up for newsletters for updates on general operations and other essential messages. 

Safety Information

You can find plenty of useful information on safety at these websites. Health Canada is also great for information. You’ll find general safety and consumer information, along with more specific guidance around the current crisis (which I’m trying not to name). Read through the guidelines and practice safe consumption practices (I wrote about these in some previous articles, here, here, here).

Government health and safety messaging about weed

Final Thoughts of Buying Weed Online

Buying online has become more of a trial-and-error process. However, online reviews can provide valuable information to get you started. You may have to purchase a 3.5-gram container since it’s all they got, but at least you can legally buy with your credit card and have it shipped to your door. Overall it is a bit of a mixed bag. However, I’m proud of the progress that has been made in under two years. As the legal industry evolves in Canada, we should see more variety, competition, and improvements in the services available to us. Looking back just a few years, it’s incredible to see how much has changed. Looking forward, I hope others throughout the world get to experience buying legal weed online. By watching Canada, others can avoid our mistakes and improve upon what we did well.

mm

Arnold Warkentin

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