With the legalization of recreational cannabis less than six months away, Ottawa wants to get a clear picture of the industry in Canada. To that end, the national statistics agency, Statistics Canada, conducted a wide-ranging study that looked at the cannabis sector from 1961 to 2017, examining data such as consumption, domestic production, the size of the US market, the Canadian share of the American market, and seizure data at the border in both directions.
The government agency also reached out to Canadians via anonymous web-based surveys, which sought input on cannabis’ regional purchase price, quantity, quality, and division between medical and recreational use. The results were released January 25. Here are the big takeaways:
Canadians Like Cannabis…
In 2017, some 4.9 million Canadians, about 14% of the country’s total population, spent an estimated $5.7 billion on cannabis, 90% of which was for recreational purposes. This works out to around $1,200 per cannabis consumer.
…But They Still Spend More on Alcohol and Tobacco
Canadians spent just over $22 billion on alcohol and $16 billion on tobacco products in 2016.
Canada’s Cannabis Industry Is Bigger Than Its Tobacco and Alcohol Industries
In 2014, the domestic cannabis-producing industry was valued at $3.4 billion, whereas the tobacco industry was valued at $1 billion and the brewery industry at $2.9 billion. Much of the tobacco and alcohol consumed in Canada is imported. Not so with cannabis.
Availability Is Bringing Cannabis Prices Down
The price of a gram of cannabis declined between 1989 and 2016, from $12 to $7.50, even though Canadians have been spending increasingly more on cannabis overall. Government statisticians attribute the drop in price to an increase in supply compared with demand.
Teens Spend Less on Cannabis Than Other Age Groups
Between 2000 and 2017, 40% of Canadian cannabis purchases were made by citizens aged 25 to 44. 33% were made by those aged 18 to 24. 18% were made by those aged 15 to 17, and 9% were made by those aged 45 to 64.
Boomers and Cannabis Are Old Friends
Cannabis consumption among middle-aged Canadians, those between 45 and 64 years old, has been increasing in recent years. In 1975, they accounted for 4% of cannabis purchases. By 2017, the percentage was 23%. Are Baby Boomers renewing their love affair with the magic plant or did they never let it cool in the first place?
When Opportunity Knocks…
Last year, 20% of Canada’s cannabis production, about $1.2 billion worth of it, was illegally sold outside the country. That is a 900% increase from 1961.