Friday August 7, 2020

By Erin Hiatt

How to Buy Weed Online Legally Education

We live in a world where we can get almost anything a heart desires by simply ordering it online and having it delivered straight to our doors. Not so much for the legal cannabis industry, who - through no fault of their own - have had to engage in some workarounds to make purchasing a simpler and more convenient process for consumers.

For example, in legal states, many dispensaries will allow consumers to place orders online, then have it delivered by a third-party service like Eaze or Nugg. How consumers order and pick up cannabis is evolving every day, especially given the new reality of Covid-19. For the time being at least, dispensaries are being granted a little more latitude to keep consumers and workers safe by allowing people to order online or over the phone and pick up curbside.  In the midst of such expansion, illegal delivery options (often with dangerous consequences) have expanded as well. How can you find legitimate delivery options? Read on as we explore buying weed online in the changing landscape.

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Illegal Online Delivery Is on the Rise

Despite the fact that cannabis is legal for adults to consume in 11 states and Washington D.C., federal prohibition has kept canna-businesses from shipping weed through services like FedEx and UPS. Many people falsely believe that oversight is only enforced through the official United States Postal Service.

Be aware regardless of which service is used, it remains 100% illegal to ship cannabis in the mail.

Nonetheless, consumers continue to seek out and purchase cannabis online. In fact, a 2018 study from the American Journal of Preventative Medicine delved into consumers and their online hunt for pot. Using Google, they looked at searches from 2005-2017 containing keywords like “marijuana” and “weed” combined with “buy,” and “order.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, researchers learned that during the 12 years covered by the study,  web searches to purchase weed online grew by 199%. They also found that of those combined keywords, 41% of the Google search links led to online retailers.

Issues with Illegal Weed Delivery

In the spirit of research, I did some Google searching of my own to see how easily I could order marijuana online (I do not have access to legal cannabis). The good news is, there are many sites and helpful pop-up chat agents named Tommy Chong ready and willing to answer my questions and help me select my cannabis goods. The bad news? I have no idea who runs these sites, where the cannabis is from, or if I will even get what I order.

Someone searching on laptop at home
While the internet may list numerous weed delivery services, it can be difficult to tell if they are legit. photo credit

Even if some these sites actually shipped cannabis to a non-legal state like mine (which would be illegal and subject to heavy fines and/or incarceration), there are a lot of scammers in the illicit drug market who would be more than happy to take my money and not actually send anything, leaving me with an empty wallet and no weed. For every friend-of-a-friend who claims that it works, the web is full of a dozen more scam stories.

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The Right Way to Make Online Cannabis Purchases

Thankfully, there are ways to protect yourself from getting ripped off - and buying from an anonymous website that will ship questionable products worldwide isn’t one of them. If you live in a legal state and want to order weed online, check your local dispensaries first.

Dutchie online ordering service on PotGuide
You can order cannabis online from dispensaries directly from their PotGuide profile.

Numerous dispensaries on PotGuide allow you to order online right from their profile. Another great option is to use PotGuide’s delivery directory so you can make sure that the business is the real deal and legally compliant (we take great care vet all the businesses that list on PotGuide). However you find a delivery option, you should always try your best to verify that a business is legally compliant.

Warning Signs and of an Illegal Online Delivery Service

There are some giveaways that will clue you in as to whether a company selling weed online is legit. For example, beware of amateur-looking websites. A quality and legitimate website should have a professional appearance and should be free of rookie mistakes like typos or incongruent language. A licensed service should have a listed (and verifiable) license number. Cost is another factor. Does it seem like it costs a lot more than legal products, or even much less? Will they ship anywhere, even to non-legal states?

The golden rule in these circumstances always comes down to,  “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

The larger issue about buying weed online is related to your health and well-being. In 2019, vape carts from the illicit market killed 42 people and sickened more than 2,100. With Covid-19 quite literally in the air, knowing where your weed comes from and how you get it is more important than ever.

And last but not least, buying weed online from legal businesses, and not from some stranger you “met” on Facebook or Instagram, protects you from getting tangled up with law enforcement. Be safe out there. As always, consume - and buy - thoughtfully.


What’s your opinion on the rise in illegal delivery services? Let us know in the comments.

Photo Credit: Christin Hume (license)


Erin Hiatt Erin Hiatt

Erin Hiatt is a New York City-based writer who has been covering the cannabis industry for more than six years. Her work - which has appeared in Hemp Connoisseur Magazine, PotGuide, Civilized, Vice, Freedom Leaf, MERRY JANE, Alternet, and CannaInvestor - covers a broad range of topics, including cannabis policy and law, CBD, hemp law and applications, science and technology, beauty, and psychedelics.

Erin's work and industry insights have been featured on the podcasts The Let's Go Eat Show, In the Know 420, and she has appeared as a featured panelist on the topic of hemp media. Erin has interviewed top industry experts such as Dr. Carl Hart, Ethan Nadelmann, Amanda Feilding, Mark A.R. Kleiman, Dr. James Fadiman, and culture icons Governor Jesse Ventura, and author Tom Robbins. You can follow her work on LinkedInWordpress, @erinhiatt on Twitter, and @erinisred on Instagram.



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