People prefer to buy cannabis online for several legitimate reasons, including discretion, transportation, and convenience. Walking into a dispensary can be intimidating for the novice. And not all cannabis stores are located within a reasonable distance for even the most devoted cannabis consumers. The option to buy pot online is particularly essential for medical marijuana patients who may not be able to drive out to a dispensary (either because of their condition or a lack of nearby options). Plus, most people are busy — ordering your weed online while getting other things done is a considerable time and energy-saver. But is it legal to buy weed online? Yes – and no. Keep reading to learn how to distinguish legit online weed stores from illegal ones.
Is weed delivery legal?
If you live in a state that’s legalized cannabis for medical or adult use, you may be able to buy weed online legally. May. Not all weed-legal states allow people to buy cannabis online or dispensaries to deliver cannabis products to their customers. The following states authorize cannabis delivery in some form:
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
- Washington, D.C.
But even if you live in one of the states above, you’ll still need to check your local jurisdiction’s ordinances to confirm that weed delivery is legal in your city. For example, California’s recreational cannabis laws allow statewide weed delivery. However, over 20 local municipalities challenged that law by banning delivery within their jurisdiction. Recently, a Superior Court of California ruling upheld the Bureau of Cannabis Control’s regulation permitting retail delivery throughout the state in any city despite local ordinances. Unfortunately, confusion and resistance persist. Many California cannabis consumers will have to find a way to the nearest licensed cannabis retail store or dispensary to access legal weed. That said, stay educated on your state and local weed laws before buying cannabis online.
Buying weed in Canada? No problem!
Unlike the United States, Canada is ahead of the curve when it comes to the ability to purchase cannabis online. It hasn't been a perfect rollout (i.e. Canada still struggles with a black market), but many provinces are allowing for licensed online weed retailers. If you're trying to buy weed in Canada I recommend checking out our resource for Canada weed laws, as the laws vary between each province.
How to tell a legal weed delivery service from an illegal one
Cannabis is still illegal at the federal level. That means that cannabis customers have to navigate a legally gray area even when they live in a state that's passed legal medical or adult-use marijuana laws. Until the United States Federal Government legalizes cannabis, there are certain rules all cannabis consumers should be familiar with to avoid committing a federal crime. Here’s what you need to know about buying weed online regardless of where you live:
- It’s ALWAYS illegal to carry weed across state lines.
- It’s ALWAYS illegal to bring weed on an airplane in the United States.
- It’s ALWAYS illegal to send cannabis through the mail.
- It’s ALWAYS illegal to sell cannabis in the United States without a state-issued license.
If you have those rules at the forefront of your mind, it’ll be easier for you to discern a legal weed delivery service from an illegal one.
Warning signs that an online weed store is illegal
Cannabis shopping can be confusing for someone new to weed or unfamiliar with local laws. But there are specific signals you can look out for to avoid illegally buying weed online. If you see any of the following on a weed store’s website, you might want to try another vendor:
- Nationwide delivery. If an online cannabis store says that it delivers weed to all 50 states, it’s definitely illegal. Cannabis isn’t legal nationwide. Additionally, most cannabis retailers don’t have licenses to sell weed in all legal states. Acquiring licensure is extremely expensive, and some states only distribute a limited number of licenses.
- Mail service. According to federal law, mail carriers cannot deliver weed. If an online weed store uses the US Postal service, UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc., it’s shipping weed through those services illegally. Unfortunately, you're the one who'll get in trouble if law enforcement intercepts your pot before you get it.
- Unusual pricing. If you see much lower prices than what a licensed cannabis brick-and-mortar offers, that’s a red flag. Legal pot shops in your area are on the hook for the same federal, state, and local taxes (which is why legal weed tends to be pricier than street pot). A drastic price difference may indicate that the online store isn't paying those taxes.
Why you should shop for legal weed
Despite the stereotype of the renegade stoner, lots of cannabis users are rule-followers. But even if you are the type to tear the system down, here are two basic reasons for you to shop legal weed: #1 Your health. Legal cannabis operators follow strict regulations to ensure that their products comply with state safety standards. That means you’re less likely to be exposed to mold, mildew, pesticides, residual solvents, or other dangerous chemicals if you use legal online weed delivery services. #2 Your freedom. Cannabis prohibition has been one of the most powerful drivers of mass incarceration. No one should be in prison for weed, but thousands of people – especially minorities who live in economically disadvantaged areas – are arrested and imprisoned for non-violent cannabis offenses. Protect yourself as much as you can and buy state-approved cannabis.
Digitally buying weed the hard way
If you want to buy weed on cyberspace you can do it the hard way or the easy way. Here’s how you buy weed online the hard way:
- Check your local government’s website to confirm that weed delivery is legal in your county or city.
- Use a search engine to find dispensaries in your area.
- Cross-check your search results with your government's list of licensed dispensaries and cannabis retail stores.
- Go through your list of licensed cannabis shops and look for delivery options (not all dispensaries offer this service).
- Follow the cannabis store’s instructions to order your weed online. Some shops may allow you to purchase online but require you to pick your products up on-site. Others may provide a built-in delivery service.
Using Wikileaf to legally buy weed
If you’re into legal weed delivery and optimizing your time, here’s the easy way to get both:
- Use the Wikileaf dispensary search tool to find a cannabis dispensary near you.
- Turn on the “Deliveries” filter.
That’s it. That’s all you have to do to find a licensed cannabis store in your area authorized to deliver weed. It doesn’t get more discrete or convenient than that.