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Cannabis sales in B.C. have steadily increased since the drug became legal, with no signs of slowing down

Since its legalization in Canada in October of 2018, sales of cannabis by THC weight have steadily increased in B.C. year over year. A recent report conducted by the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR) at UVic looked at sales data between 2018-2020, from wholesalers, private retailers and B.C. Cannabis stores (in-person and online).

Using data from the Liquor and Cannabis Distribution Branch of the B.C. provincial government, the study found that in 2020, sales in the province added up to nearly 8,000 kg of THC—equivalent to approximately 400 million joints (at 20mg of THC each) and accounted for about $290 million in gross revenue. 

The research was led by CISUR director Dr. Tim Naimi, whose team calculated the potency of all 1,811 unique products in milligrams of THC to allow comparison across products. The report found that in 2020 B.C. ($42.5 million) was the fourth highest province for recreational cannabis sales, behind Ontario, Alberta and Quebec.  The province’s licensed trade sales increased by 139 percent in December 2020 as compared to the same time the previous year.

“I think it’s important to get out this type of new information to achieve the right balance in terms of consumer choice, revenue considerations and public health,” says Dr. Niami.

Sales have doubled between 2019 and 2020, from 64 mg of THC per person over the age of 15, to 129 mg, respectively. Flower and pre-roll products accounted for approximately 84 percent of all cannabis sales by THC weight.

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COVID touches everything

The pandemic has impacted and altered most aspects of business, and the cannabis industry seems to be no different. Online sales used to be prohibited for licensed private retailers, but a COVID-19-related policy change allowed for online orders and payment with in-store pickup. Starting July 15, home delivery of cannabis products by private retailers was also permitted, which is likely to drive sales up even higher.

Examples of further policy solutions might include cannabis-specific taxes, minimum prices per gram of THC, and potency restrictions, said Dr. Niami in a release.