Eww, the Cannabis Industry Is Gross… Happy 420

Oh, I mean it. Cannabis is great…like a gift from the gods. But so are many things that get corrupted by big industry…like food. Weed might be great, and legalizations necessary in bringing down punishments for things that don’t need punishing… but I’ll say it again, today’s cannabis industry is a gross place.

Why we need the industry

The reality is that gross or not in how its run, the legal cannabis industry is important for the sheer fact that it brings down arrests, convictions, fine-paying, and jail time related to cannabis. The government has collected untold amounts of money (literally, no amount is given). And even a sweeping pardon by President Biden didn’t give this stolen money, back to the people who got robbed by governments and law enforcement. So legalizing is great in that it makes it harder to get arrested. Though certainly not impossible, as such finite limits are set.

It also works to change opinions in a positive way. Weed users aren’t walking around like zombies, or robbing places or people to get a fix. At most, the typical stoner might get a bit lazy, or buy a bunch of munchies, but these things rarely hurt anyone else. Changing views means no longer looking at weed users like they’re bad, or criminals, or worthless, or out-of-control. No one is smoking weed with the threat of an overdose death, so it shouldn’t be treated that way.

The legal industry also adds elements of increased availability Instead of making a buy behind a dumpster to allude arrest, from a guy who goes by the name of ‘Dank’; a person can simply go into a store and make a purchase, without feeling weird or vulnerable. After years of only having the down-low, for many people this is an incredibly helpful improvement.

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And it helps people. Whether you want to call it recreational or medical. Sure, medical use is great for approved medical issues, but simple issues of needing to relax and relieve stress, are often done through recreational use. Life is difficult, and full of anxieties, and so much of the time we don’t get what we want or need. Today’s weed industry recognizes the benefits to both kinds of usage, and that it not only gives people a possible answer to their diagnosed problems, but it validates that things like everyday stress are real, and need solutions.

Lastly, the industry of today comes with a lot of information that was typically unavailable to users back in the day. When I lived in New York, I had a dealer who came by subway, and would pull out several baggies from his underwear as options. I went for the one that was brightest, or with a name I liked; but I had no understanding of specifics.

These days, dispensaries can give intimate descriptions, options abound, and the internet is full of information. In fact, its so super-saturated, and such a place for pushing opinions and marketing information, that its also full of a bunch of crap, which works the other way. Even so, good information is available, and that’s a part of having an industry that is open for discussion.

Why the cannabis industry is grosstaxes, overly strict regulation, greed, dirty products

Despite what we think legalizations are meant for, the reality is that governments pushing these policies, are more-often-than-not doing it for their benefit, not for their constituents. We know this by the ridiculous tax policies meant to bring in money, that somehow were made without consideration for what it means to the industry, operators within, and those buying products.

The black market was always known about, and it says a lot for the greed of legislators, that knowing this, (and with some seeing other markets fail in expectation), they haven’t stopped implementing nearly-impossible-to-meet regulations, or tax schemes that raise prices. It even begs the question of whether lawmakers understand what they’re doing. The idea that its run by greed, even beyond the point of logic, is part of what makes the legal cannabis industry a gross place.

What about actually being gross? A reality of the industry is that a lot is black market. Now that doesn’t have to be bad. I certainly never had a problem buying ‘Dank’s’ weed. But black market dispensaries are not just about regular weed, they involve edibles and oils and tinctures for which we have literally no idea what’s inside. Knock it up a notch further, we don’t know much about a lot of products in the legal dispensaries. Those issues of too much THC, that’s a black market thing. And so are synthetics. But what about additives? Or leached chemicals in vapes? Or pesticides? Those are issues all around.

Ridiculous cannabis taxes make industry gross
Ridiculous cannabis taxes make industry gross

The reality – In an effort to make as much money as possible, governments set high taxes from the onset, and collected decent sums in tax dollars; though never to predicted amounts. Now, as sales go down, the cashgrab ability deteriorates quickly, and we’re left with tons of issues of overproduction and monetary losses; which means operators doing what they have to, to get by. And this can mean all kinds of corner cutting and tampering.

What this can lead to

The last time I bought carts was in Las Vegas last year, at a legal dispensary, because I didn’t want dirty products. I was told upon purchase that if I had an issue with any of my five carts, that I could send them back to the producer for replacement. Not the dispensary, but the company selling them. I never heard anything like this before. Nor had I ever had one problem in the dozens of carts I’d used, including cheap ones off the street in Florida (it was Corona, girl did what she had to).

I had issues with three of those five carts. One becoming entirely useless partway in, and two more making it hard enough to use that I passed them on to other people more willing to try. It seems disturbingly like that promise from the dispensary was given with the knowledge that the carts wouldn’t work well, and with the knowledge that I likely wouldn’t send anything back to the company for replacement. Vegas is a city of tourists, meaning no one can leave the state and have this guarantee applied. Even for those in state, it means a lengthy process for an ‘on demand’ product. It was a bogus promise.

My expectation is that the bogus promise coincided with the carts being made more cheaply, or even damaged prior to sale, so that I’d do the easier thing; throw out the bad one, and buy a new one from the dispensary. It seems to me the carts were expected to break. Is this shocking? Not really. Half the news reports on cannabis today are of company losses and staff cuts. Companies are falling under, and want to find ways to keep going and improve revenue streams. They’re getting desperate to increase sales.

And that’s the legal industry. No pointing fingers at black market retailers, or bogus testing facilities, or anything like that. If its true, those vape carts represent a sheisty move from a failing industry. And the bigger question for an industry writer like me, becomes, ‘where else will these companies cut corners to make a profit?’ If they’re willing to sell bad carts to induce more sales, what else are they willing to do? This issue of shoddy vape carts is becoming more widespread, indicating the possibility that products are tampered with on purpose. And this in the legal market.

More reasons why the cannabis industry is gross fake help, and difficulty for small operators

One of the aspects I find most gross about today’s cannabis industry, is the idea that its meant to help those who suffered losses due to the war on drugs, by helping them enter the industry as operators of some kind. For example, if someone served jail time, or lost a job because of a low-level drug crime. Or if from a neighborhood notorious for police violence over drugs. Not all legislation is the same, but one of the fads of these legalization bills is to include parameters that in some way allow such people an ability to enter the market more easily. Packaged as a way to make up for the losses people had to suffer.

Lies about help to hurt populations make cannabis industry gross
Lies about help to hurt populations make cannabis industry gross

Or at least, that’s what’s said. In reality, telling a person they can be first in line for something they can’t actually have, is just about optics, and not about reality. Independent operators have an incredibly hard time due to the costs of regulation, and simply starting up a cannabis business takes an incredible amount of capital. Those hurt the most by the drug trade aren’t usually people from affluent communities with the money for such things; so making a statement about giving them first crack, is so meaningless, its actually insulting.

In fact, the industry is nearly run by large companies or corporations, and even they are finding it difficult. If a company like Tilray or Aurora can’t get out of huge losses and the necessity for staff cuts, how can a mom & pop fair? Another reality to today’s gross cannabis industry is that small operators don’t stand a chance. And if a small operator from regular means can’t, what does this promise mean to those who are coming from a less financially stable background?


I am a writer in the cannabis industry. But I am also a critic, as we all should be. This 420, consider what’s become of things. And then consider if it might be better to have legalization without formal markets. Sure, I support legalization, unquestionably; but I don’t like the turnout of today’s industry. And if I’m to be honest, when comparing in the end; I’m more than happy to buy the stuff ‘Dank’ is selling.

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