While an increase in legal purchases is to be expected following the legalization of adult-use cannabis, the uptick is significant.
Despite their historic love of the illicit cannabis market, what with its selection and prices, Canadians may be coming around to the idea of scoring their weed from legal sources.
Per the 2019 National Cannabis Survey, approximately 29.4 percent of users reported obtaining all of their cannabis from a licensed retailer. That is triple the percentage before legalization (10.7 percent).
Many others reported buying their weed from multiple sources, and a total of 52 percent of Canadians surveyed reported buying at least some of their cannabis products from a legal source.
While an increase in legal purchases is to be expected following the legalization of adult-use cannabis — prior to October 2018, only medical use cannabis was legal in Canada — the uptick is significant.
While sourcing cannabis from the illicit market “remained a common practice in 2019,” the numbers are markedly lower. Approximately 40 percent of consumers reported buying weed from an unlicensed source in 2019, with another 37.8 percent reporting they obtained cannabis from — or shared it with — friends and family. In 2018, those numbers were about 52 percent and 49 percent, respectively.
While there are many reasons why the majority of cannabis consumers still prefer to purchase their pot products from the illicit market, increased access may be a factor to significant uptick in Canadians’ enthusiasm for legal cannabis products.
The number of stores in most provinces has increased since legalization came into force. In Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, immediately after legalization, adult-use cannabis lovers were limited to making online purchases from the provincially run Ontario Cannabis Store to get their weed.
The product supply woes that plagued the industry in the early days of legal weed have also improved, as has the diversity of products available on the legal market. As well, second-wave cannabis products such as edibles, beverages, topicals and concentrates hit the shelves of licensed retailers in late December 2019 or early January 2020
Overall, the number of Canadians who consume cannabis is increasing, with Statistics Canada reporting a small rise in new users who may be more likely to purchase cannabis from a licensed retailer.
Whether or not the trend continues, however, remains to be seen.
Written by Emma Spears