Article by Matt Lundy, Globe and Mail
Canada’s rollout of physical cannabis stores has been uneven, to put it mildly.
For that reason, the ease of buying cannabis in person largely reflects where you live.
The Globe has analyzed Canada’s retail footprint to see where store supply is severely lacking. The standout areas? Canada’s largest cities, along with mid-sized markets in Ontario and Quebec where, nearly eight months after the legalization of recreational use, a single store has yet to open.
The sluggish rollout is significant because, to help tamp down the illegal market, Canada will need a robust retail presence.
“The limited data suggest that generally speaking, provinces that have more stores per capita are getting more sales per capita, and therefore are taking a bigger chunk out of their respective black markets,” says Michael Armstrong, a business professor at Brock University.
As of May 31, there were 290 cannabis stores either open or licensed to open in Canada’s provinces, according to a review of regulators’ websites.
Put another way, there are 0.8 stores for every 100,000 people. Colorado, which legalized recreational marijuana in 2014, has about 10 recreational outlets for every 100,000 residents, according to a recent analysis from AltaCorp Capital, which referred to the state as a “mature” market. To match Colorado’s retail density, the provinces would need to add roughly 3,400 stores.
Depending where you look, the shortfall differs greatly. For instance, Newfoundland and Labrador has more cannabis stores than Ontario, serving a population that is 3.6 per cent of the size.
Drilling down further, here are the number of stores for every 100,000 people by census division. (A census division is a group of neighbouring municipalities; some examples are Greater Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto.)
The vast majority of census divisions do not have a cannabis store, with a large portion of absences in Ontario and Quebec.