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We Still Mail Weed In 2021?
We do, in fact! Quite a lot of it, too. In Canada, at least, MOM (Mail-Order Marijuana, for the uninitiated) still accounts for a major percentage of the country’s cannabis market. Mail-order services actually predate federal legalization by quite a few years, and many of the largest services that currently exist have operated for over a decade. That isn’t to say that the mail-order side of the business has simply been stale since then: just as it did for the rest of the cannabis industry, federal decriminalization has opened pathways for MOMs to operate with less impunity. Evidently, every order not having the potential to earn you a serious federal charge is pretty good for business.
Still, it seems a little bit archaic to be ordering weed through the mail in 2021. How does mail-in delivery stack up against the countless other options that exist around the country since the advent of 2018? Before I answer that, I’d like to take a quick look at the history of MOMs in Canada. Honestly, I didn’t know how long they’d been around until I started doing research for this post! There’s a lot more there than I expected, so I thought it might be cool to look at for a minute.
I’ll Write You A Postcard, I’ll Send You The Weed
That one’s a Stars reference, for the Arts & Crafts fans out there. As it turns out, MOMs in Canada came into being the very same year they released their first studio album. Licensed mail-order businesses began to emerge around 2001, when Health Canada loosened restrictions on the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. Most of these initial services were entirely medical, and it was still a few more years before the industry we know today would come to be. According to most sources, it was around 2004 before the first national MOMs began to really pick up steam online. Prior to that, it was Silk Road or bust if you were in the market for mail-order marijuana.
Of course, the initial boom in 2004 led to its own series of problems. Most notable among them was the issue of trust: these companies were accepting payments for product but could never guarantee that it would safely reach its destination. Many of these shipments would be intercepted by Canada Post, while others would be outright stolen if they were identified as marijuana. Customers during this period had no recourse if their product was stolen, and many companies took advantage of that. Some more famously than others.
MOMs inherently operate within a framework of deniability because so many other drivers, companies, and government employees have to handle their product before it arrives at the customer’s mailbox. At any point in that supply chain, product can be stolen, damaged, or simply misplaced. When a single shipment can take upwards of 4 weeks to ship from one side of the country to the other, that introduces hundreds if not thousands of new opportunities for errors to arise. Licensed MOMs don’t have to worry about interception by Canada Post, but are still vulnerable to theft and damage by third-party operators. In most cases, the only recourse for those issues is to offer customers store credit towards their next purchase, but at that point the customer might be left waiting another whole month for their order. Never mind that they no longer trust that anything will come at all.
Given the issues I’ve outlined above, why bother shipping marijuana through the mail at all? For that matter, why do these services still exist in 2021 if they’re wrought with so many problems? Well, the good news on that front is that most of the initial problems in the industry during the early 2000’s have since been resolved. The companies and services that scammed their customers outright have (mostly) been disbanded, though of course there will always be new ones to follow. That’s not limited to MOMs, of course, or even to the cannabis industry. There will always be scammers, that’s just unavoidable.
Since 2018, though, the mail-order scene has been making an effort to clean up its act and regain the lost trust of the many Canadians who were caught up in the industry’s troubled beginnings. Provincial services, such as the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) and the SQDC in Quebec, have done a lot to help Canadians regain their trust in the mail-order cannabis industry.
Evidently, the reason for the continued success of MOMs in Canada is simple: the ones that are performing well have higher-quality, better-priced products than brick-and-mortar dispensaries do in certain parts of the country. If you live downtown Toronto, you might have a lot of options when it comes to recreational dispensaries or weed delivery services, and you might be able to find something fresher or cheaper more locally. Somewhere like Hanover, though? Ordering weed from a MOM might be your best bet to get something nice for a half-decent price. Unless you feel like driving for a while, that is. Depending on the price of gas, a MOM might still be cheaper. Not to mention they would probably have a far wider selection of products.
Effectively, until another option for weed delivery to more remote areas comes into being, mail-order service is still the best bet for anyone whose town might not be big enough to attract big brick-and-mortar dispensaries. That’s not to say, however, that there isn’t a third option out there…
Stand and Deliver
Same-Day delivery services are popping up all over the country. While the majority still operate within a legal grey area, as direct delivery of cannabis is still illegal in Canada, it’s hard not to see why these services are performing so well. Same-day delivery services often have access to the same variety of products that a MOM would have in stock, often at similar prices. Usually cheaper, because you don’t have to pay shipping. The biggest factor that same-day weed delivery has over mail-order, though? You get your weed ON THE SAME DAY.
Seriously! Why would I place an order, wait 3-4 weeks, then HOPE that everything was picked, weighed, and shipped properly with no real recourse if they weren’t, when I could call and place an order that will be at my door in an hour? If there’s a problem with my order, I can literally tell the driver there’s a problem, and any same-day service worth their salt will be back at my door with more product before the evening’s out. The only real sticking point is that the same-day delivery companies are still illegal, but as it turns out, a lot of Canadians don’t really mind that. Never mind that if the future does bring legal pathways for same-day delivery, the final advantage that mail-order cannabis has will be gone. From that perspective, it’s really just a matter of time.
Regardless of your personal preference when it comes to buying weed near you (or not near you at all, if you’re a MOM fan), the real takeaway from all of this should be how fortunate we are that the Canadian market allows for such variety in how we choose to buy and order cannabis online. I for one count myself lucky to not have to buy from the guy down the street who sprayed all of his weed with his nasty-ass bubble gum scent and then claimed it was ‘Bubble Gum Kush’. So long as we never get back to that point, I think I’ll be happy.