By: Caroline Cahill
Recreational cannabis legalization is on Canada’s horizon and as a means of understanding pre- and post-legalization markets, Statistics Canada has been analyzing historical data to get a sense of what the future of legal cannabis may hold for the country and if its most recent report is any indication, Canadian cannabis consumers are ready to open their wallets when it comes to cannabis.
On Jan. 25, 2018, Statistics Canada released, “Cannabis Economic Account, 1961 to 2017.” According to the report, 4.9 million Canadian cannabis consumers spent approximately C$5.7 billion on medical and recreational cannabis in 2017, averaging C$1,200 per consumer.
While Canada has an operational medical cannabis market and is preparing to legalize recreational cannabis this summer, 90% of household spending on cannabis in 2017 was for recreational cannabis procured from the black market.
Statistics Canada estimated that the medical market only accounted for C$400 million cannabis production in 2017, whereas Canada’s black market accounted for C$4.6 billion in 2017, with illegal exports outside of the country accounting for C$1.2 billion.
In regards to the demographics of Canadian cannabis consumers, Statistics Canada found that consumption among those aged 45-64 increased from 4% in 1975 to 23% in 2017, so the trend of baby boomers embracing the market is not limited to the United States.
As far as vice industries go, Statistics Canada reported that the cannabis industry’s growth is in line with that of the beer industry and greater than that of the tobacco industry.
Once recreational cannabis rolls out this summer, Statistics Canada plans to develop a post-legalization study that will explore the new data on Canadian cannabis consumers and cannabis production, which should inform the decision-making process for current and prospective stakeholders.