The current total cannabis market (legal and illegal) is about $8 billion annually in Canada, based on average consumer spending of $107 per month by current consumers, according to Vividata’s National Cannabis Consumer Study 2019.

Close to 40% of adult cannabis users in Canada reported obtaining cannabis from the black market in the past year. For those buyers, top sources included a friend (59%), dealer (32%), private dispensary (23%), online (18%), family (12%), and other (3%), pointing to the social nature of cannabis consumption, with the majority of illicit consumption happening through friendships.

Social lounges have even begun sprouting (or making a legal comeback) in the cities, from byMinistry cafe in Toronto — created by the founders of Tokyo Smoke — a cannabis-centric lounge rolling out a variety of different events aimed at educating consumers in a hands on way, to Kensington Market’s Hotbox (under renovation), to others in Canada and more prevalent in San Francisco in the US at the moment.

Legal cannabis was obtained in the past year by over half (53%) of cannabis users, through sources including retailers (55%), online (46%), medical providers (17%), and homegrown cannabis (6%), signalling new opportunities in retail for a whole new category. However, legal cannabis in Canada came under criticism for being close to 60% more expensive than illegal cannabis for the most part, and not being able to match supply with demand in most provinces.

The disparity was more acute in Ontario, where the legal retail rollout was slowed by a lottery system, and other provinces reporting more profits. Critics suggested that only those with the connections and high net-worth were able to get their foot in the Ontario retail allotment. This year, Ontario’s retail allotment system got replaced with a system of “merit” which critics still suggest has loopholes in terms of not being able to achieve the province’s target capacity of 1000 stores by 2020.


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