Can Weedmaps stay in business by highlighting only legal shops?

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Cannabis plant. Photo credit: Pixabay.

Earlier this week, authorities confiscated $1.5 billion worth of illegal cannabis in the state. Recreational marijuana has been legal in California for almost two years, but that hasn’t curbed the unlicensed market. 

In fact, the illegal weed market is thriving. Many folks are still buying unlicensed pot. It’s often cheaper than its legal counterpart, which is heavily taxed. 

One company, Irvine-based Weedmaps, operates kind of like Yelp. It’s a clearinghouse for cannabis shops. It helps users find, rate, and review dispensaries. But Weedmaps has been under pressure from California regulators to only list legal suppliers. Earlier this year, Weedmaps announced it would ban advertisements from unlicensed retailers on the site. But then in October, the platform laid off a quarter of its staff. Are those two events related? And if Weedmaps is downsizing, what does that mean for the cannabis market as a whole? 

Credits

Guest:
Abdullah Saeed - Weed media maker and host of the podcast Great Moments in Weed History

Host:
Steve Chiotakis

Producers:
Christian Bordal, Jenna Kagel