Why the Term “Black Market” Should be Struck from the Cannabis Industry

When we hear the phrase “black market,” we often picture an underground market where illegal activities are taking place. Remember the days of meeting a friend in their basement to pick up your cannabis supply? Unfortunately, the term “black market” is commonly used in the CBD/hemp and cannabis industry, referring to the sale of products that are not obtained from legal/licensed dispensaries. Prior to medical cannabis legalization in several states, the legacy market for cannabis certainly existed to serve patients. Adult-use laws began in 2014 to further broaden the acceptance of legal acquisition of cannabis, making even more space for the legacy market to evolve into the newly licensed industry. By continuing the use of the term “black market”, we may inadvertently continue to support negative connotations and promote a fear of purchasing products, potentially impeding the continued development and legalized, licensed sale of cannabis. In this blog post, we will discuss why the term “black market” should no longer be used in the cannabis industry, and why we should all strive to improve our industry’s language.

Impedes legalization efforts

The term “black market” implies illegal activities with the sale of cannabis. When we use the term to refer to the sale of cannabis products outside of legal dispensaries, it hurts our progress towards mainstream acceptance and legalization. It perpetuates the idea that the cannabis industry is still underground and exotic, and that it is not yet ready to become a fully legal industry. By using the term “black market,” we derail efforts made to regulate legal cannabis businesses. 

Discredits legal cannabis businesses

We need to remember that using the term “black market” negatively impacts businesses that operate legally. When we refer to the sale of cannabis products outside of licensed dispensaries as black-market activities, we are also equating their activities to those of illegal and criminal organizations. This is unfair to businesses that operate within the legal framework, they have the necessary and appropriate licenses for their operation. The term “black market” also does not foster mainstream acceptance of cannabis for both medicinal and adult-use consumption. 

Fails to recognize the legitimate market of CBD products

CBD products outside of dispensaries are often deemed the “black market.” However, the CBD market is rapidly expanding, and it is projected that it will become a billion-dollar industry within the next decade. The perception of the “black market” negatively impacts legitimate businesses within the CBD market as much as the general cannabis market. Many people are already benefiting from taking CBD products, and it is essential that we recognize this and see it as a potential benefit

A terminology shift is necessary. 

It’s time to strike the word “black market” from our vocabulary when discussing cannabis and instead focus on the legal and legitimate sale of cannabis products. The terminology that we use should reflect that cannabis is a legitimate industry, one that deserves to be treated as such. We need to emphasize that there is a legal framework in place for the sale of these products. We should use language that helps to identify and support legitimate cannabis businesses operating within this framework.

In conclusion, cannabis has come a long way, and we need to change the language we use when discussing cannabis products. The term “black market” shrinks the legitimacy of the cannabis industry and discredits legal cannabis businesses and associates the industry with illegal activities such as drug dealing when we use this term. Eliminating “black market” from cannabis industry vocabulary is a big step towards recognizing and supporting the potential of this industry. Making progress towards mainstream acceptance and regulation requires the cooperation of everyone. So, we need to work together by reframing our language and adopt positive language for the cannabis industry. One way we assist in this effort at Cannabis Trainers is to educate our course participants on proper language when discussing cannabis. We do this through modeling, role-play and additional exercises woven within our training. We look forward to seeing you and your team at one of these sessions in the near future!


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