Cannabis in Canada has been federally legal for 385 days and counting, each day hundreds to thousands of Canadians order or buy cannabis through a provincially run retailer. Since legalization it has been a turbulent time for the Canadian government, with product shortages, delay in the opening of licensed retailers and poor product quality, Canada is still trying to find that sweet spot for nation wide cannabis retail.
Since legalization on October 17, 2018 more and more Canadians have reported that they have used recreational cannabis, especially men between the age of 45-64. Within the first three months of legalization around 330,000 Canadians said they tried cannabis for the first time, with that number doubling a year later to 650,000. That’s around 1 in 5 Canadians who tried cannabis post legalization. This has helped the Canadian economy over 9200 jobs being created through the cannabis industry. It has also contributed to important research funding with more avenues opening up to discover the specifics that cannabinoids can provide on our health.
The spike in marijuana consumption in Canada can however be a credited to what researchers refer to as ‘straw fire effect’ which is when a statistic shoots up very high at the beginning stages then goes back down to the normal level. This was exactly the case when Colorado legalized cannabis a few years ago, there was a massive spike in cannabis consumption but leveled out to the average number shortly after legalization. None the less, Cannabis has been widely accepted by Canadians and the numbers show that a consistent growth in revenue, usage and jobs will only continue. Here we’ll dive into the cannabis statistics within Canada and the various effects it has had on Canada as a whole.
Cannabis Is A Man’s Best Friend
One thing legalization has shown us is that cannabis consumption among Canadian men is that they smoke more cannabis then Canadian women. Data from the National Cannabis Survey (NCS) shows that Canadian men are twice as likely to have consumed cannabis since it was legalized in 2018. Males (21%) were almost twice as likely to partake in cannabis consumption in the first half of 2019 as females (12%). This held true for every age group except seniors aged 65 and older. Almost three in five females reported never having consumed cannabis (59%), compared with just over half (51%) of males. According to combined data from the first half of 2019, males (8%) were twice as likely to report daily or almost daily use as females (4%). Males were also more likely than females to consume cannabis on a weekly and a monthly basis but equally as likely to report occasional use. According to Statistics Canada, Canadians were asked if they used cannabis for medical purposes with appropriate documentation, medical purposes with no official documentation or if they used it for purely recreational purposes. More then 52% of males reported using cannabis for recreational purposes with another 30% reporting they used it for both medical and non-medical reasons.
When it came to buying cannabis in Canada the data showed that Canadian males are likely to purchase cannabis whereas females are more likely to get it from other sources such as family and friends. It shows that a quarter of Canadians who used cannabis did not pay for it. The data goes on to show that 48% of Canadians reported buying some of their cannabis from a legal licensed retailer but 42% reported they bought some of their cannabis from an illegal source. This revealed that around 29% of Canadians purchased their cannabis exclusively from a legal licensed retailer. Check out our Complete Guide To Buying Weed Online to learn more.
Grandma and Grandpa Are Stoned
One of the most surprising facts coming out of Statistics Canada is that a certain age group has become the fastest growing group of consuming marijuana. You may think it’s the youth which was one of the biggest worries with the legalization of Cannabis but in fact it’s Canadian seniors who have become the fastest growing group of cannabis users. Stats Canada shows that more than one in four seniors who recently used cannabis were new users. The statistics show 10% that those aged 25-44 were new cannabis users in the second and third quarters of 2019, 27 percent of new users were 65 and older.
Now let’s compare that to the number of 65 and over users using cannabis in 2012. Stats Canada reported that only 0.8% of seniors 65 plus were using cannabis, that’s around 40,000 Canadians, now compare that to the most recent statistics where it shows more then 400,000 seniors have used cannabis in the past three months. Half of these seniors consumed cannabis for medical reasons, with the remaining seniors evenly split between recreational use (24 per cent) and both medical and non-medical reasons (24 per cent). Statistics also showed that seniors mostly get their cannabis from licensed retail stores over the illegal market.
Since 2004 the average age for cannabis consumption has gone from 29 years old to 38 years old in 2019. So next time you’re over at your grandparents for Sunday dinner, it might be the perfect opportunity to offer up a pre roll for dessert.
Pass The Province To The Left Hand Side
Each province has their own cannabis wants and needs, with each individual province having its own rules and regulations, along with pricing and cannabis options. Let’s have a look at each individual province’s cannabis outlook and statistics after the first 6 months to a year of legalization.
Alberta was eager to get involved with the legal cannabis, so much that a few weeks after legalization the Alberta government put a freeze on new retail licences. Which was a good move, as they are already experiencing shortages province wide, with the possibility of the shortage lasting a year or two. After the first three months of cannabis being legal Alberta had sold approximately $25 million legal non-medical cannabis. This number took a huge jump six months onward where Albertans spent $123.7 million on legal cannabis. This is the most spent by any other province in Canada. As of June 2019 Alberta had issued 277 licences for cannabis retailers, this is a massive number considering Canada’s largest province Ontario has fewer then 25. Albertans currently pay an average of $9.07 per gram on legal cannabis, which is a 24% increase in price before legalization.
Known as the cannabis capital of Canada, British Columbia’s legal cannabis statistics are surprisingly some of the lowest in Canada. According to Statistics Canada nine months after cannabis became legal, British Columbia had made only $19.5 million in recreational cannabis sales, a $103 million difference from their neighbors Alberta. This has been credited to the lack of legal licensed retailers throughout the province with only 62 licences issued in a nine-month period. These low figures have forced the British Columbia government to revise its projected tax revenues from $200 million to $68 million. The price change in cannabis has been the lowest in the country with a minimal increase of 3.7% resulting in a gram of cannabis being $7.15.
Manitoba has surprisingly been punching above its weight when it comes to cannabis legalization. As of July 2019 monthly sales for legal cannabis in Manitoba was $5.8 million. Manitoba as of October 2019 had a total of 26 operational stores, one more then Ontario which has ten times their population. Multiple factors have played a part in Manitoba being successful when it comes to cannabis legalization, such as cheap power, low rent and a low cost of living. Before legalization cannabis prices per gram were around $5 on the black market, this has seen a huge jump since legalization where the average price per gram is now $10.71.
When the predicted cannabis shortages began, New Brunswick was one of the first provinces to feel the pinch. Cannabis NB the government retail store in New Brunswick had already laid off 60 works, along with their online retail store, New Brunswick has 20+ government-run stores in operation. Cannabis consumption has jumped in New Brunswick by 21%, yet Cannabis NB has reported a $16 million loss since legalization.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Due to its unique time difference Newfound and Labrador was the first province to sell legal cannabis in Canada. A year on Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have purchased more then $36 million in cannabis, with around 3600 kilograms being sold. Newfoundland and Labrador was hit heavily with the cannabis shortages, with many licensed retailers not getting enough product to meet demand. In the first three months of legalization, Statistics Canada reported that 19.2% of the entire province reported using cannabis. The average price for cannabis is around $9.36 which is a 21.8% increase since legalization began.
In January, Statistics Canada reported Atlantic Canadian provinces were buying the most legal cannabis per capita than any other Canadian provinces. Nova Scotia was the highest province when it came to cannabis consumption. The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation stated it sold $33 million worth of cannabis in its most recent fiscal year. They saw a growth of 5.2% in their second quarter compared to the same period in 2018. Nova Scotia is one of the only places in Canada where cannabis and alcohol can be purchased in the same place. Cannabis is Nova Scotia has increased 19.7% since legalization with the average cost per gram at $8.73.
Canada’s largest province has seen an increase in those turning to the black market, with only 24 stores currently located throughout the province. As of September the Ontario Cannabis Store lost $42 million in its latest fiscal year, with $64 million in revenue and $106 million in expenses. Of the 414 municipalities throughout Ontario 77 decreed that no cannabis stores will open within their municipalities. Prices of cannabis per gram in Ontario averages around $10.23 compared to the average price on the black market which is around $6 per gram.
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island has a whopping four physical storefronts, where they lost almost $500,000 in the first six months, but is expecting a $300,000 surplus for the end of the year. PEI saw their biggest surge during the tourism months in the summer, with the legal cannabis market taking up 35-45% of the total cannabis market.
A year after legalization, 82% of Quebecers are still using the black market to purchase their cannabis. Quebec only has 21 legal storefronts. They have also banned home growing where the Federal government permits up to four plants per household. They have also recently raised the legal cannabis age to 21. Quebec has also cut its retail stores and reducing the numbers of stores to 40 by 2020. However Quebec cannabis stores have made $71 million in sales within their first year of selling, they have sold the most cannabis in terms of dollars and volume, but they still reported a $4.9 million loss. Store sales totaled $57.6 million — roughly 8 tonnes of cannabis. People spent an average of $51.07 per transaction in store, and there were 1.3 million total transactions. Where their online sales accounted for $13.7 million in sales with the average spend around $61.09.
Saskatchewan is the only province that allows producers to sell directly to store owners. As of August Saskatchewan has seen $6.8 million in sales according to Statistics Canada but this still soon increase as they have adopted the same framework both Alberta and British Columbia with an open-market system for cannabis stores. After paying above-average prices for cannabis pre-legalization, Saskatchewanians can now get it for a few cents less the average price across the country. The average cost of a gram has risen by 10.3% since last October and now clocks in at $8.02.
Sales in the Territories came in at around $2.3 million which includes medical marijuana sales. Statistics Canada reports an average price of $10.36 per gram in Yukon and $14.45 per gram in the Northwest Territories. It has no cost data from Nunavut since prior to legalization, when the average cost was $15.24 per gram. The Yukon government operates one retail store in Whitehorse, although it is open to allowing privately run stores in other parts of the province. Five private liquor store operators have been granted licences to sell cannabis in the Northwest Territories. Statistics Canada does not have consumption rate data available for the territories.
Read our How Canadians Smoke Coast-To-Coast article to learn more!
Statistics Canada conducts their National Cannabis Survey every three months each year through 2018 and 2019 to gauge cannabis consumption. The data is focused solely on Canadians 15 years and older, reflecting their cannabis use and related cannabis behaviors in the previous three months. This mean statistics are constantly changing and fluctuating with each category. So far 6 reports have been conducted and counting. To review each report you can visit Statistics Canada website here.