Can you even safely buy cannabis online? Yes – if you’re careful.
The online cannabis space is infested with scammers. Within just a few months of 2020, the Better Business Bureau received over 60,000 questions from consumers trying to understand the right way to buy cannabis online. The proliferation of legal cannabis has given rise to an ambitious network of scammers, fake-out artists, and opportunists hungry to take advantage of consumers’ unfamiliarity with the fledgling industry.
In response, experts say consumers need to become better educated on how to avoid missteps when trying to buy cannabis online. That includes learning how to identify scams, making safe payment decisions, and learning how to keep personal data private when shopping over the Internet.
The Most Popular Online Scams
The best way to stay vigilant about Internet scams is to approach every online interaction with care. Keep hucksters in mind and try to remember what they’re after. They want money — and they’ll go to great (if predictable) lengths to get it.
One of the easiest ways to steal money from consumers trying to buy cannabis online is to build a website for a fake company. Learning to recognize the telltale signs of a scam site can save consumers money and hassles.
Typically, scammers don’t invest a lot of time in building out quality websites. Instead, they combine stock images and buzzwords to trigger search engine hits.
Take this website for Canadian Hemp Co. as an example. The BBB has issued a warning against the business, which doesn’t hold a cannabis license or exist at any location. Further, the address does not exist. It’s clearly a scam — one that consumers can learn from.
Pay Attention To How Things Sound
Notice how the text on the website reads like a Nigerian prince email. Sentences like, “All Canadian customers we now give a 5% discount for all interac orders yes we accept credit cards” barely qualify as English. No respectable company would allow that to populate their home page.
In addition to examining the text on weed sites, smart consumers look out for warning signs of illegal activities, such as guarantees to ship full-spectrum cannabis across national borders or state lines.
Moreover, another solid sign of a scam are deals that are too good to be true. If any website claims consumers can buy cannabis online for a fraction of the costs elsewhere, it’s usually a scam. Legitimate cannabis costs money to grow, to test for quality, and to register. Basically, sites that sell deep discounts are usually after users’ personal information and/or cash.
If all those criteria seem legit, Canadian consumers can check cannabis licenses through the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch of their local province. Checking for BBB postings like the warning for Canadian Hemp Co. is another solid way to double-check legitimacy.
Other common scams include phishing emails, where a scam artists emails links about great deals directly to consumers. When trusting users click on the link, they download a virus or spyware that collects personal information.
To stay clean, never trust emails sent by strangers or companies you’ve never heard of and can’t find more information about.
What’s The Best Way To Pay When You Buy Online?
See online retailers that insist in taking payments in strange ways as waving big red flags. Further, businesses that only take Bitcoin or another kind of cryptocurrency are usually run by scammers.
Cryptocurrency cannot be traced, and it’s easier for scammers to get the money and run. Legitimate, reliable cannabis companies are focused on customers. They will offer multiple ways to pay, including credit cards, debit cards, and PayPal.
If given the choice, always pay with a credit card. Built in fraud protections and money-back guarantees are one of the best ways consumers can keep from getting ripped off. If something bad does occur, such as an extra charge or a lack of receiving an order, contact the credit card company right away. They have the equipment to deal with scammers.
What About When You Buy CBD Online?
Because CBD is more legalized in America and faces fewer restrictions everywhere, it’s generally easy to find in person and online. But, buying CBD online presents its own set of challenges.
CBD buyers should watch out for false advertising and be prepared to pay good money for high-quality products. The ubiquity of CBD has led some sham companies to try to make a quick buck by selling poor quality hemp oil to unsuspecting consumers.
Always check for third-party lab testing. Honest CBD brokers know it’s the only way to guarantee their products deliver on promises. If you can’t find a third-party lab report, move on. There’s another CBD company right around the corner.
How to Buy Cannabis Online – the Right Way
There are some fast and simple ways to check that the online weed shops are the real deal.
First, take advantage of the Internet’s web of information. Legitimate businesses often have reviews on several platforms. Google, Yelp, Facebook, the BBB, and cannabis-specific review sites offer users a chance to connect and expound on the good and bad of weed shops.
If that’s not enough, double-check the cannabis and/or business license granted by the local government. Many of these are accessible online. Look at your state or province’s cannabis regulatory office.
Finally, keep your wits about you. Know the laws. Basically, if your government only allows publicly run shops to send weed by mail, don’t fall for a private store that promises it can do the same.
Moreover, the best scammers take advantage of user wants. Whatever is the worst part of the cannabis experience: price, distance, delivery, selection — even selling blood cannabis in disguise as sustainable — scammers will target that niche. Making undeliverable promises has always been the calling card of con men. It’s no different when trying to buy cannabis online.