Weedmaps has come out as the latest online cannabis dispensary directory to purge its website of unlicensed shops in a move that Wikileaf CEO and Founder Dan Nelson calls continued growing pains for an industry that is constantly becoming more mainstream.
Weedmaps announced Aug. 21 that it will no longer allow illicit businesses to advertise on its platform in a move projected to undercut California’s vast illegal cannabis market, according to a CTV News report.
Nelson and the Wikileaf team made a similar decision in late 2017, when it cracked down on unlicensed businesses listed on its website. In early 2018, when California launched its legal adult-use cannabis market, Wikileaf purged its directory of all illegal dispensaries, cutting its list of 1,500 California shops back to 577, Nelson says.
Two driving forces led Wikileaf to its purge, he adds: feedback from dispensaries and an eye toward a listing on the Canadian Securities Exchange.
Wikileaf’s dispensary onboarding team received ongoing feedback from businesses expressing dismay when, after they went through the painstaking licensing process and displayed compliance with California regulations, their dispensary was displayed on online platforms next to nearby dispensaries that had not received licenses.
“It was their view, which I believe is also a true one, that the platforms were enabling these black-market businesses to siphon off business that really should have gone to the legal outlets,” Nelson says. “That was the first bit of feedback that we were getting every day from the dispensaries that we work with back in late 2017 and early 2018.”
Then, as the company ramped up plans for its listing on the CSE, it began looking more closely at its compliance with each state’s advertising regulations and laws regarding unlicensed dispensaries. This eventually led Nelson and his team to conclude that Wikileaf needed