Canna-Conomy – Weed Dealer, Back-Door Steve, Goes Legit

Canna-Conomy – Weed Dealer, Back-Door Steve, Goes Legit


On October 17th, 2018, Canada finally entered the world stage as a nationwide cannabis legal country! After decades of stoners hiding in the shadows and smoke clouds, we were all finally able to exhale our smokescreens in full public view and remove a major worry from our reasons to be paranoid while high.

With the new legislation, came a new industry and the recreational cannabis industry was born. Both online and brick and mortar stores started to pop up in towns all over the country. Coming up on nearly two and a half years since the law has changed in our favour, we’ve also now entered a full year of a global pandemic – further pushing the cannabis industry in Canada forward.

Since COVID hit, what changes have taken place in the cannabis markets, both legal and illegal?


The Marijuana Legal Sales Boom 

Since the legalization of possession and commercial growth of cannabis in 2018, Canada has seen an explosion of legal cannabis sales and growth operations countrywide. That being said, Canadians found it difficult to transition from the “black market” into the legal one for reasons likely to be associated with years of back door dealing habits and longstanding relationships with private “black market” providers like Back-Door Steve behind your local pizza joint. 

Note: In this context, Back-Door Steve is a fiction used to describe illegal weed dealing organizations we’re using to tell a story, but most readers likely know a real version of him, maybe even some people with the same name.

That being said, how have the factors of the last two and a half years impacted his side hustle he’s likely had going for years, if not decades?

Before COVID but a year after legalization, Statistics Canada reported that Canadians still spent over $890,000,000 in the 4th quarter of 2019 in the unlicensed market, and about half that amount – $456,000,000, in the legal market, even though weed was now legal to buy in stores and online if you are 19 or older. Back-Door Steve was still doing pretty well for himself in 2019, even if he wasn’t selling to minors. But after COVID really kicked in, Canadians started to be a little more conservative about seeing too many people or going out as often for non-essentials. Cannabis being legal, meant poor Steve was no longer, or at least far less likely, to be considered essential. 

In the months that followed, Statistic Canada collected additional data about the trends of legal and illegal weed sales and the landscape started to shift dramatically as the pandemic intensified.

By the first quarter of 2020, licensed sales of cannabis jumped to an average of $538,000,000, while Back-Door Steve’s profits sank to equate to an average of $843,000,000. From there, the trend continued. By the second quarter of 2020, legal marijuana sales jumped to $627,000,000, while illegal marijuana sales fell to $803,000,000.

Then, for the first time in Canada’s history, in the third quarter of 2020, legal marijuana sales surpassed the illegal market. By Q3, Stats Can reported an average expense on legal cannabis of $821,000,000, and a slump to $762,000,000 in illegal cannabis sales. By Q4, the change was even more drastic – $918,000,000 in the legal market, and $714,000,000 in the illegal market. 

Looks like Back-Door Steve should probably give up his side hustle and start looking to go legit as a weed salesman. The money is looking better in legal sales and he might even stand a chance at getting a better pay than his pizza gig. 

Data continues to be collected on the changes which seem to be accelerating to favour the legal markets. It’s likely the days of the profitable private dealers may be drawing to a close. But don’t feel bad for the Back-Door Steves of the country. As demand for legal products go up, they can finally have an opportunity to legitimize themselves and their experience in the cannabis industry. If they knew their product, they now have the potential for legitimate careers as growers, clerks, and even investors if they’d been around the block enough already before the market changed.

According to in Canada, there are nearly 2,000 open job opportunities in the cannabis industry as of April 2021 – some even have employee medical plans on offer – and there is no reason to suspect this number will go down as more and more demand for legal cannabis rises.

To the Back-Door Steves out there, now is your chance. Get out there and get a decent and benefit filled job doing what you love. If you’re more interested in being a consumer and a connoisseur of legal cannabis, sign-up with us and become a member of our store! As a member, you get deals and exclusive offers unique to us, so come join us and enjoy your perks!



Statistics Canada, Table: 36-10-0124-01

Canadian Cannabis | Understanding Legal Cannabis Market Dynamics, Green Growth CPAs, 2020

Cannabis Act, S.C. 2018, c. 16,Assented to 2018-06-21 

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