If there was one figure to remember from these 4 years of cannabis legalization in Canada, it would probably be that 68% of consumers now buy from the legal market according to Statistics Canada estimates.
The big winner from regulation, however, is not the cannabis lover but the Canadian government, which went from spending around C$440 million a year on drug interdiction to now reaping C$250 million a year. year in direct taxes and has generated over CA$15 billion in tax revenue since legalization.
By way of comparison, the legal cannabis market represented half of the beer market in Canada last July, with CA$395 million in sales, 10 times more than in the first month of legalization, with more than 3,300 stores on its territory. territory, 33 times more than in October 2018.
So, of course, the regulation is not perfect. The country is also reviewing its legalization to assess the work done and learn how and where to adapt to achieve its goals of protecting public health and maintaining public safety.
Both consumers and manufacturers are asking for a relaxation of overly strict regulations. Everything that is not sold legally continues to be sold on the black market. The most French of Canadian provinces, for example, still prohibits edibles or the THC cartridges to vape, which are not difficult to find outside the shelves of the SQDC. Quebec also restricts the self-cultivation of cannabis. And only 98 branches have opened in 4 years, with fairly high prices, sometimes tight schedules and fluctuating delivery possibilities, while Ontario has opened more than 1,500 stores over the same period for a population twice as high.
For their part, cannabis companies denounce excessive taxes that prevent them from generating profits – and from satisfying their shareholders. A CA$100 investment made in Canopy Growth on October 17, 2018 — the day cannabis was legalized — is now worth just CA$5.16. Too high forecasts, strong competition and falling selling prices in the recreational market have led to the downfall of many production or retail companies.
The micro-licensing model gives a second wind to small producers who can start producing or processing small quantities of cannabis, generally in a short circuit, and with much more artisanal products than the large clean rooms of large LPs.
What about the impact on public health? Canada has not seen massive shipments of heroin or crack into the pockets of pushers and teenagers didn’t jump on cannabis, as prohibition advocates like to repeat.
The youngest are also consuming less cannabis since legalization and the increase in consumption in Canada, attributed in particular to the greater availability of the product, the greater ease of talking about it and the periods of confinement, generally follows global trends, with no noticeable explosion so far either in consumption or in problematic consumption or in psychoses and other mental illnesses.
Canada has given ideas to a growing number of countries, including Luxembourg, Malta, Germany, Thailand or the Czech Republic, which are trying to implement national legalization. Even the United States federal government recently took a small step toward reforming its cannabis laws.
But Canada’s ambition does not stop there. The task force in charge of its regulation hopes to reach 80% of the legal market by 2028.