The recent headline-making raids by law enforcement designed to end illicit cannabis sales in New York are unlikely to work, according to a new, first-of-its-kind survey, because New Yorkers overwhelmingly trust the products they are purchasing in those locations.
The survey was conducted by NuggMD, the nation’s leading telehealth platform for cannabis, and first reported by Cultivated, a cannabis newsletter written by Jeremy Berke, an independent journalist who formerly covered the cannabis industry for Insider.
According to the survey, 61 percent of respondents who buy cannabis in unlicensed gray market locations said they trust that it has been tested for contaminants, while 22 percent of these respondents indicated they do not trust the safety of gray market products, but that they can’t purchase cannabis anywhere else. (Gray market locations do not have testing requirements.)
Additionally, most respondents who purchase cannabis in the gray market reported one or more negative experiences with the products purchased. Thirty percent of these respondents said it made them higher than they expected, while 31 percent said the product looked, smelled, or tasted odd and 65 percent said the product didn’t get them as high as they expected, given the dose they consumed.
Most concerning is that nearly 8 percent of respondents reported feeling unwell after consuming cannabis purchased in the gray market.
“Our survey shows New Yorkers have an alarming amount of trust in the illicit cannabis products they’re purchasing from unlicensed retail locations. While this trust is misplaced, that doesn’t make it any less real, which is why enforcement alone is not a solution to the state’s illicit cannabis problem,” said Alex Milligan, co-founder and CMO of NuggMD. “So long as consumers trust those products, there will be demand for them.”
While New York State legalized recreational cannabis more than two years ago, there are currently just 20 licensed recreational dispensaries open in the state, according to the Office of Cannabis Management. Five are clustered in one three-mile radius in Manhattan, and half have opened during the past two months.
According to the NuggMD survey, individuals who hold medical cards were less likely to shop for cannabis in the gray market. Taken together, the data suggests that a combination of more licensed dispensaries and a public information campaign that emphasizes the difference between safe, lab-tested cannabis and cannabis bought in the gray market would slow the consumption of gray-market products and contribute meaningfully to public health and safety.
Milligan concluded: “We know that it is difficult to regulate this sector while allowing operators to build a vibrant marketplace. But, as our survey shows, every barrier that impedes new licensed dispensaries from opening quickly where there is demand for them increases risk for many thousands of New Yorkers.”
NuggMD sent a series of questions about cannabis buying patterns and preferences to approximately 70,000 cannabis consumers in New York State and received 354 responses. The survey is non-scientific and contains selection bias. The company hopes the survey prompts further study and ultimately reduces the barriers that impede more licensed recreational dispensaries from opening.
NuggMD is the nation's leading medical marijuana technology platform, serving patients in California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia. They've connected over 1,000,000 patients face-to-face with their new medical marijuana doctors via their state-of-the-art telemedicine platform. They believe every human being has the right to explore the benefits of medical cannabis and are fully committed to helping each patient explore every option in their journey to wellness. For further information, visit NuggMD.com.