Three Months Into Legalization: Canada’s Cannabis Market Now

Wondering how legalization has fared so far? Whether the overly rosy or downright bleak predictions have come to fruition? Here’s the latest following the first full quarter of legal cannabis sales in Canada.

Cannabis Financial Forecasts: Unknown Sales Figures

The first thing many people want to know about Canadian cannabis sales is whether they’ve been profitable.

As of writing, sales figures for legal cannabis aren’t public. While some estimates put 2018 legal marijuana sales at $1.6 billion, without word from the provinces on actual recreational sales, that number remains just that—an estimate. Even still, that $1.6 billion figure, which includes both medical and recreational estimates, is more than twice what was sold in 2017.

British Columbia is the only province to have released sales numbers so far, sharing that they had over 110,000 sales. Why? Unfortunately, cannabis shortages didn’t just affect consumers and retailers. “Due to the supply shortage of cannabis throughout Canada, the stock keeping units (SKUs) we receive are never consistent, so it’s very difficult to gauge with any level of accuracy,” said Chara Goodings’ Senior Communications Officer for Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis, explaining why her organization was not sharing sales information.

In addition to lack of consistency with reporting, because some provinces are functioning as liscenees as opposed to operators, they don’t have access to actual sales data.

Ontario shared that they have had over 400,000 since opening their online storefront; PEI Cannabis Corporation and Cannabis NB are expected to release quarterly sales figures later this month.

Hopefully, over the next month or so, we can get a better idea of the true financial impact of the industry.

And the Most Popular Product Is…

While legalization in California and Colorado have shown a move away from dried flower to concentrates and edibles, in Canada, flower remains king (or queen, actually, since most consumed flower comes from female plants). However, with edibles poised to become legal soon, this will likely change.

If Canada follows in the footsteps of other legal cannabis markets, as consumers acclimate to new product offerings, flower sales will likely decline. Concentrates, such as dab, wax, and shatter, and full spectrum cannabis oils or CBD oils will likely capture a larger part of the market. In the US, oils are especially popular for vaping, which has become of the most popular methods for ingesting cannabis. And while it will be several months, at least, before cannabis-infused goodies like brownies, chocolates, and even sodas hit the shelves, cannabis oils and tinctures make it easy for adventurous Canucks to experiment with cannabis home cooking.

Once edibles become legal in Canada, flower sales may decline further still. Edibles present a (delicious) alternative for consuming cannabis. While they result in a high that is different from smoking, vaping, or ingesting cannabis sublingually, their treat-like packaging makes them seem more consumer-friendly and may entice more Canadians who are anti-smoking to try cannabis.

After The First Quarter, Future Looks Brighter

There’s no denying that legalization encountered some hiccups. Supply is evening out and the days of shortages may soon be over. Thanks to growers and suppliers working hard to create consistent production systems that meet Health Canada regulations and scaling their operations, Canadian consumers may soon be welcomed by well-stocked shelves upon visiting their favorite dispensary.

As we look towards what the rest of the first year of legalization in Canada will look like, there’s a lot of growth and potential on the horizon. Many provinces are looking to add additional brick and mortar locations, which will help make it easier for Canadians to easily access cannabis products. For example, Ontario, which currently only has online sales available, will soon be home to retail dispensaries. Other provinces are also looking to expand.

The next nine months are going to be exciting for Canada’s cannabis industry. Expect more growth, more retail locations, and fewer problems as the industry learns to better regulate itself.