[dropcap class=”kp-dropcap”]W[/dropcap]eedmaps, which is undeniably one of the most popular digital cannabis marketplaces, announced on Wednesday that it will no longer support dispensaries, delivery companies and other cannabis companies that are unlicensed.
Unlicensed companies won’t be happy about the imminent changes, but the people who are celebrating the removal of black market listings the most are the operators behind legally licensed companies. “That is a huge win,” said Ryan Kunkel, who runs the Have A Heart dispensary chain in three states. “Our biggest competitor in every jurisdiction in California is black-market Weedmaps. It’s not the tax rates, it’s not the regulations— it’s Weedmaps’ efforts to prop up unlicensed operators.”
According to Jerred Kiloh, owner of a licensed dispensary in Los Angeles, the changes were the result of mounting pressure from state regulators to cease the promotion of illegal cannabis businesses. At first, the company resisted pressure, such as a warning letter sent by Lori Ajax of the Bureau of Cannabis Control in March 2018. Shortly after, Weedmaps officials told the Bureau of Cannabis control that they don’t have the authority to police them. Currently, it appears Weedmaps may have lost this particular battle.
The Guardian called Weedmaps the “Yelp for pot,” as users can post reviews of dispensaries and delivery services and rank them accordingly. The success of many of those companies hinges heavily upon their ratings on Weedmaps, but a report from Los Angeles Times found that over 60 percent of Weedmaps reviews are fake, and many dispensary operators were accused of posting their own reviews to boost their own rankings.
Weedmaps was founded in Irvine, California in 2008, when California’s cannabis market was still in the “Wild West” stage. Now that Proposition 64 is in effect, however, unlicensed dispensaries aren’t going to get away with operations for much longer.
In its news release announcement, and in an effort to ease its users, Weedmaps stated that in addition to dropping unlicensed businesses, it also is taking part in social justice reform. “One of the most important and impactful promises of cannabis legalization is that it will give minority entrepreneurs the ability to enter the new industry and help reverse the damages inflicted on those disproportionately affected by the failed ‘War on Drugs,'” the company stated. “Unfortunately, as a result of limited access to capital and limited license opportunities provided by local governments, these entrepreneurs are actually finding it nearly impossible to participate in the legal market.”