Article by Ryan Flanagan, CTV News
As Canada’s six-month anniversary of marijuana legalization day approaches, it’s clear that it’s been a bit of a rocky road.
Supply shortages have left customers and retailers frustrated across the country. Some provinces have already laid off workers or cut hours at government-run cannabis retailers, while others are still having trouble getting their retail networks off the ground.
A possible positive to take from the past six months is that there has been no indication of serious spikes in criminal activity or public health emergencies due to marijuana being more readily available – but even that could change as time moves on and more data is compiled.
One thing that can’t be argued is that the business world has seen a lot of opportunity in the Canadian cannabis market. Even though major industry players such as Cronos and CannTrust are reporting higher-than-expected losses, the surging revenues have investors dreaming of dollar signs. From the takeover of Newstrike to European expansion to celebrity involvement, the weed business remains an attractive one in many quarters.
What’s happening? The Ontario government rethought its approach to cannabis sales a few months before the Oct. 17, 2018, legalization date, deciding to use private retail operators instead of the LCBO liquor agency. As a result, no stores opened in the province until April 1, and large cities including Windsor and Kitchener remain without any physical retail cannabis presence. Even then, 12 of the operators granted licenses were fined for not being able to open on time. Seventy-seven of the province’s 414 municipalities have decreed that no cannabis stores will be allowed to operate within their borders.
How much has been sold? Almost $22 million worth of non-prescription cannabis by the end of 2018, according to Arcview. With medicinal marijuana factored in, Ontario accounts for 35.7 per cent of the total national figure despite its lack of physical stores.
Who is using it? StatCan found that 15.4 per cent of Ontarians used cannabis in the last quarter of 2018, exactly in line with the national average.
What does it cost? One of the priciest provinces for marijuana prior to last October, Ontario saw a relatively small post-legalization price bump of 8.5 per cent, moving it closer to the middle of the pack. The average cost now sits at $8.05 per gram, one cent above the national average.
Future forecast: Arcview’s forecast calls for Ontario’s share of the national cannabis pie to rise to 39 per cent by 2024, making it a $1.8-billion market.