Last year was a breakthrough year for the legal cannabis industry. Having long been viewed as taboo, the passage of the Cannabis Act in June in our neighbor to the north, and the official legalization and sale of recreational marijuana in licensed dispensaries and online stores as of Oct. 17, 2018, in Canada, validated the industry as a legitimate business model.
Pundits are no longer asking whether the cannabis industry can survive. Nowadays, the questions revolve around how large the global weed industry could grow over the next decade, with some on Wall Street calling for as much as $75 billion in annual sales.
However, your vision of what the existing cannabis industry looks like in Canada may not be correct…
If you think you know Canada’s marijuana industry, think again
Every three months, Statistics Canada releases the results of its National Cannabis Survey from the previous quarter. This survey examines current and expected use rates, as well as the most likely methods of consumption. In early February, Statistics Canada released its survey findingsfrom the fourth quarter of 2018.
If you’re like every other investor, you’d be expecting recreational marijuana sales to dominate, especially with the curtain of prohibition on adult-use sales coming to a close on Oct. 17. Interestingly, though, this isn’t what the data showed. Of the respondents aged 15 and older who used cannabis in the past three months, 7% reported using weed solely for recreational purposes, 4% consumed cannabis solely for medical purposes, and another 4% used it for medical and nonmedical purposes, for a combined use rate of 15% (or 4.6 million Canadians, on an extrapolated basis). The surprise is that more than half of all users still consume marijuana, in some capacity, for medical purposes and not just for recreational use.
Not only did medical marijuana remain a big part of the Canadian pot industry during the fourth quarter, but medical weed patients were far more willing to use cannabis and open their wallets relative to recreational consumers. Just one in five nonmedical users reported using cannabis daily or almost daily, which compares to 70% of medical users with documentation (i.e., an issued medical card) and 46% of medical users without documentation. Additionally, 95% of medical users with documentation reported spending money on marijuana in the last three months, compared to just 57% of nonmedical users.
The National Cannabis Survey also found a marked difference in the way medical and nonmedical users consume the product. More than four of five (83%) recreational user…
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