Survey reveals that Canadians are getting on board with legal weed

Published Sep 18, 2020 11:00 a.m. ET
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The Canadian cannabis industry has been fraught with hurdles since the inception of federal legalization, as the black market always seemed to keep one step ahead and unbound by harsh regulations and restrictions, but now that COVID-19 is changing the way that we do business, it seems that Canadians everywhere are buying more legal cannabis than ever before.

How much more?

The very first day of weed legalization the Canadian industry saw a massively warm welcome across the region as consumers crashed websites and lined up outside of storefronts for hours just for a chance to be one of the very first to partake in this historical moment. Not surprisingly, the numbers out of the gate didn’t take long to trickle down to only a select few consumers who were willing to stay loyal to the legal market, leaving many dispensary owners and producers to ponder their future.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2019, Canadians spent a staggering 74% less on legal recreational cannabis than they have so far in 2020. In the second quarter of this year, recreational cannabis sales totaled to $648 million, and medical products raked in $155 million. At this same time, the black market experienced massive losses with Canadians spending $19 million less there than they did during the same period last year, which accounts for approximately 54% of the increase in legal sales.

The cause of this shift

The remaining 20% increase in cannabis sales is believed to be caused by the pandemic, which still reaches nearly all parts of the world. A combination of stress, and the global movement to make working from home a possibility in the interest of public health, which ultimately gives workers more freedom to do as they wish in their spare time, and the way that government officials stepped up to allow legal dispensaries to provide safer alternatives such as delivery is the explanation for the change.

Will the upwards trend of acceptance continue?

Over 1100 licensed retailers from all across the country are pushing for a deeper acceptance and fairness in the cannabis industry, in hopes of maintaining the ability to offer low contact solutions for those who are still concerned about the risk of COVID-19 and anyone who cannot safely access dispensary services in person based on location. The fear of exposure has been a significant influence on the increase, as online sales in nearly every market reach record-breaking proportions.

If regional officials choose to listen to the needs of the people, there will be a sweeping change that offers a fairer and more competitive market, but in order to do that, the government will need to give up its monopoly and harsh controls. This is not something that’s going to happen overnight, as the government coffers have been filling with cannabis tax revenue, and they aren’t going to rush to give that up, but if we want to see a fair market flourish, it’s really the only way to go forward with a trend of acceptance.

The hope is that these trial runs that were temporarily approved by provincial governments across the country can serve as proof that we can do it without risking the health of Canadians. Both medicinal and recreational cannabis consumers are awaiting the day that a healthy free market takes hold, but for now, it seems like the dispensaries and producers that are already in business will at least have a chance to weather the economic storm that lies just ahead with the increase in revenue.

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