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Cannabis in Canada—Looking Back at 2020

legalization of cannabis in Canada
legalization of cannabis in Canada

Since the legalization of cannabis in Canada since October 17, 2018, the road for everyone in the industry has been anything but easy. Despite the fact that local cannabis shops, mail order marijuana facilities as well as online marijuana dispensaries are now legal entities, this has done little to make business an easy success for many.

From 2019 to 2020 the percent of people using cannabis has been largely unchanged with 18 percent of people surveyed using it daily while 54 percent using it three days per month or less—this is virtually unchanged from 2019. More than half of users obtain their cannabis from legally with 41 percent purchasing it from a local cannabis shop (up from 24 percent in 2019) and 13 percent buying weed online from an online marijuana dispensary. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted slightly on cannabis consumption compared to the previous year with 56 percent of people reporting using the same amount, 22 percent stating they used more and 22 percent said they used less. While smoking is still the most common way to intake cannabis, this method is on the decline while buying edibles online or making them at home for consumption is on the rise.

With more and more legal shops and online marijuana dispensaries being established, the populous as a whole has been able to take advantage of their knowledge of cannabis as the percentage of people who believe they have access to trustworthy information has risen from 71 percent in 2019 to 77 percent in 2020. Alberta leads the country in the number of stores opened—over 500, while Ontario and Quebec are at the bottom of the scale with only approximately 150 and 50 stores respectively. Unfortunately, it is bureaucracy and not the supply chain which is slowing down the launch of more shops—cannabis producers have the ability to produce more than enough product to meet the needs of the market but due to the bottle neck, are currently sitting on a stock pile of legal inventory. This has affected growers adversely with some needing to shutter operations in various locations across the country to conserve funds and boost profitability.

Provincial government cannabis models, such as that of Ontario, also further hiders the establishment of more local cannabis shops and online marijuana dispensaries based in that province. In addition to acting as the wholesaler, the province also operates the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) where it sells directly to consumers. Competing against the government to sell cannabis does not appeal to many whether it be a brick and mortar retailer or an online marijuana dispensary and no doubt has discouraged many more retailers from setting up shop. The fact that the OCS was still operating during the COVID-19 pandemic and competing against private cannabis retailers during the economic downturn has further sullied its reputation according to many.

Despite everything, cannabis sales in Canada has been good overall and the industry is continuing to grow. Brick and mortar cannabis shops, mail order marijuana websites as well as online marijuana dispensaries continue to set up shop in Canada and will for the foreseeable future.

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