Canadian cannabis sales sputter as weed industry struggles to work out the kinks

According to recent data released by Statistics Canada, legal cannabis sales totaled CA$54 million ($41 million) in the first full month of operations. All told, it was a rather lackluster opening for a market pegged with so much potential, some of whose top companies are valued in the billions.

Comparatively, south of the border in Massachusetts, cannabis dispensaries sold $24 million worth of products in the first two months of legalization in that state.

[Cannabis news briefs: AG nominee being cool about pot, more pets getting stoned, Sutera to acquire NETA, and MN and IL consider recreational use measures]

Per the raw data, Canada sold CA$43 million ($32.71 million) worth of cannabis in the two weeks following October 17, the day the new law went into effect. The data, which is part of Statistics Canada’s monthly reports on retail sales across a wide swath of sectors in the country is subject to change as new data becomes available and the marketplace evolves, according to the agency report.

A myriad of reasons behind the low figures for weed sales

Still, a shaky launch to the market, followed by cannabis shortages and a still thriving underground sales could have contributed to the less than stellar figures. As many experts have noted, it’s quite early in the process, and things are continuing to evolve.

“Not every company, but just in general big companies are trying to get people who you never expected to be smoking weed, like 40-50-year-olds, well-established professionals, and stuff like that,” Christian Borys, an industry expert who heads up the website The Cannabis Complex told PotNetwork. He’s done extensive work documenting the history of legal weed in Canada in real time. “I think the black market exists for people who are like ‘why am I going to go buy cannabis from the government.’”

“[As] more good options become available to consumers they’ll go to government-run or government-regulated stores,” he continued. “Infrastructure is still being developed; its only three months into legalization so it’s going to take some time.”

It’s also possible that the numbers are a bit lower due to the situation in Ontario. It’s the most populated province in Canada but consumers can only purchase cannabis via online sales until a spate of 25 privately-run retail shops opens in April. And that situation will take some time to settle as well.

“I think Ontario changing their regulations on how they were going to be approaching the retail side of the business caught a lot of larger LPs and companies off guard a little bit, but I know the LPs, the government bodies and the retail winners of the lotteries are all getting together very quickly on a rapid scale right now to determine who’s going to distribute, where,” Keith Dolo, CEO of Sproutly Canada told PotNetwork.

[As CEO, CannAmerica’s Dan Anglin wants a piece of the hemp and CBD market. As a Marine, he wants veterans to have access to cannabis too.]

“Stay tuned, it’s going to be almost a wild-wild west,” he continued.

It should also be noted that edibles are currently forbidden in Canada, but that should soon change as well, with many experts considering the move to cannabis-infused food and drink the next great catalyst in the industry.


Header Image: Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance

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