Article by Solomon Israel, Leaf News
It’s been 365 days since Canada legalized and regulated non-medical cannabis on Oct. 17, 2018. Here’s a by-the-numbers look at what’s happened since then.
Online sales of legal cannabis are available in all of Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories, but it’s bricks-and-mortar storefronts that appear to be the driving force behind weed sales. Not all Canadians have equal access to those physical weed stores, though, since different provincial cannabis policies have led to an uneven rollout of stores over the year.
Alberta is the national provincial leader in terms of cannabis store access, having issued 306 licences for stores to serve a population of nearly 4.4 million people. Newfoundland, with 25 licensed stores, has the next-best ratio of licences to population, and Saskatchewan comes in third with 39 licences. British Columbia ranks fourth in the ratio of licences to population, although many of those stores haven’t actually opened yet.
Canada’s two most populous provinces sit at the bottom of the licence-to-population rankings: Quebec has just 22 licensed stores serving nearly 8.5 million people, followed by Ontario, which, after a year, has only issued 24 licences to serve nearly 14.6 million Ontarians.
Monthly retail sales of government-regulated weed from those licensed stores, and online, have grown from $41.5 million in October to $104.5 million this past July, according to Statistics Canada. The national data agency also reports that federal, provincial and territorial governments earned a combined $186 million in cannabis excise tax and sales taxes from legal cannabis sales during the first five-and-a-half months of legalization.
Official government cannabis statistics related to cannabis are still catching up to the past few months. Health Canada’s latest available data shows that licensed cannabis producers have increased their monthly production of packaged and labelled dried cannabis between October 2018 (13,830 kilograms of finished production) and June 2019 (29,098 kilograms of finished production).
But monthly unfinished production — dried cannabis not packaged or labelled for sale — has increased at a faster clip, from 41,677 kilograms last October to 120,630 kilograms during the month of June.
“There’s been a consistent delay, looking at the numbers, in terms of getting that unfinished stuff turned into finished product,” says Brock University business professor Michael Armstrong.
“And part of that could just be processing problems, bottlenecks in the factory, and I think that was true last fall, maybe through the winter. But since it’s persisted, I think part of it might be product that is just not good enough quality, so it’s going to eventually get turned into oil… In which case it will get used in oil products or in edible products, foods and beverages.”