Cannabis Plant

Canadians Spent Over $1B on Legal Cannabis in 2018 — What Now?

Recreational cannabis was only legal for 75 days in 2018, and yet the industry made a big splash. The onset of legalization brought long lines and highlighted supply issues as excited customers quickly emptied retailers’ shelves. While sales numbers for recreational cannabis are still difficult to come by, the latest estimates for legal cannabis sales in Canada (which includes medical cannabis) show a growing market with plenty of potential.

In 2018, Canadians spent over $1.6 billion on legal cannabis—that’s more than double what was spent in 2017. In a report released by Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics, The State of Legal Marijuana Markets, the research groups indicate that Canada is now the world’s third top market for legal cannabis. With plenty of potential for growth, especially considering that recreational sales will be a more substantial proportion of 2019’s numbers, Canada is expected to topple California as the world’s top marijuana market by 2022.

To ensure this growth, there are three things that cannabis companies must do.

Figure Out Production

As with any nascent industry, recreational cannabis experienced some major hiccups upon legalization. Licensed producers faced new regulations and had to scrap plants that weren’t up to scruff, leaving retailers with bare shelves and consumers unable to get their hands on quality cannabis products.

Thankfully, most producers have begun scaling their operations due to demand. Some are even importing workers to man cultivation facilities in the face of a worker shortage. In addition, some growers are looking into automation systems. Ultimately, licensed producers must create efficient systems for growing and cultivating high-quality plants that meet all of Health Canada’s standards—and that inspire trust in Canadian consumers.

Make Shopping Easy

Some provinces have yet to open retail shops for recreational cannabis. This certainly makes it harder for consumers to shop. While most provinces have online shopping available, it can’t always compete with the instant gratification of walking into a dispensary and physically seeing and smelling the products. In order to get more Canadians to abandon the marijuana black market, the Canadian cannabis industry needs to make it easy for consumers to get their hands on safe, lab-tested products. In addition to more retail locations, this means having more knowledgeable retail staff that can help inform consumers and guide them on their journeys.

In comparison to the US market, Canadian legal cannabis is more affordable, making it more enticing for consumers. While some individuals will stay tied up in the black market because they think the marijuana is cheaper, those concerned with safety and quality will likely make the switch to the legal market—especially when it becomes easier to shop.

Of course, this isn’t entirely on the shoulders of cannabis companies. While some provinces allow for private licensed retailers, others have chosen to man shops themselves.

Educate and Train

The cannabis industry has created numerous new jobs; however, there are hundreds of unfilled listings across the country. With a low jobless rate, Canadian cannabis companies have to entice new workers to enter the cannabis industry or train workers from other sectors so they can make the switch.

Canadian cannabis companies are dominating the world market. For this to continue, the industry will require top talent that can help companies maximize their potential. Whether universities will help in this pursuit by creating cannabis-focused educational tracts is uncertain, but cannabis companies themselves have the power to initiate educational programs to train potential employees.

Legal Cannabis may well be a $3 billion industry in 2019. To minimize growing pains and make shopping for cannabis a more enjoyable experience, we hope to see more companies innovating within the cannabis space and creating a positive impact in this growing industry.