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Legal vs. Illegal Cannabis: A closer look

The owners of Little Leaf Cannabis Co. Inc. explain why it matters where you buy your cannabis products.
Little leaf cannabis owners

Even though cannabis was legalized here in Canada back in 2018, there are still many illegal sellers operating all over the province and online. I spoke with Leanne McPhie and Paul Thompson, co-founders of Little Leaf Cannabis Co. Inc. to learn more about the illegal market and why it is important to be a savvy consumer.

Study Shows Illegal Cannabis is Less Potent and Potentially Harmful

According to a study by the Ontario Cannabis Store and the Ontario Provincial Police, the quality of illegal cannabis is unreliable and often unsafe. The results of their study showed that illegal edible cannabis products contain an average of only 20% of the advertised THC levels.

“I’ve talked to people who are looking for something similar to what they had bought online but the package information isn’t accurate. It makes it hard for us to recommend a safe product and it makes it difficult for that customer to ever find something that works for them in the same way again,” explains Leanne. “Since illegal cannabis products are so unreliable, it is almost impossible to get the same thing twice.”

The study also uncovered some unsettling truths about pesticides in illegal cannabis products. Many of the samples tested contained chemical levels that were hundreds of times higher than what is allowed by Health Canada.

“Health Canada is very specific on what ingredients are allowed. You know exactly what is in each legally produced cannabis product because they are all thoroughly tested. On the illegal side, there are no regulations so they can say what they want on the package, they can claim whatever potency they want, and they can use whatever chemicals they want,” says Paul.

Leanne adds, “I really care about what I put into my body. I care about what I consume. I want to know that if I'm going to smoke cannabis for the next 10 years that I’m not unintentionally consuming pesticides, heavy metals, and things like that.”

Legal Storefronts Protect the Youth

A big motivation for Paul and Leanne to continue to grow their legal cannabis business is to protect young people. Here in Ontario, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 19 to purchase cannabis. Of course, illegal sellers don’t necessarily follow the law.

“Part of the government mandate when they legalized cannabis was to keep the youth safe. The illegal market will take cash for ID. It is our social responsibility to protect young people,” explains Leanne.

Great Selection from Legal Cannabis Stores

While the health and safety concerns of illegal cannabis are very worrying, there are additional reasons why legal cannabis retailers like Little Leaf are better than illegal storefronts.

“It really comes down to selection. We have about 350 different types of cannabis products. Each strain has its own effects, its own aroma, and its own flavour. Having access to such a wide variety is a lot of fun from the consumer standpoint. You can really customize your experience.,” explains Paul. “On the other hand, illegal sellers usually have a very small selection in comparison.”

“We’ve witnessed first-hand the power of the plant and the positive effects it has had on many people’s lives. We know that cleaner, safer products as a result of a regulated environment is the best alternative to the illicit market that often contains dangerous additives and has false potency claims,” says Leanne.

You can check the legality of any retailer in Ontario by searching for them on the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario’s searchable database.

To browse Little Leaf’s large selection of legal cannabis products, visit them at 804 Ontario Street in Stratford or online at Little Leaf. Big Experience.