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What Percentage Of Consumers Buy Legal Cannabis In Canada?

Canada became just the second country to ever legalize cannabis for adult use in 2018. Uruguay was the first to do so in 2013. Canada will always hold the title of being the first G-7 nation to legalize cannabis for adult use, and the first country to ever launch a nationwide adult-use industry that was open to all consumers of legal age. Uruguay is finally opening up its industry to tourists, however, adult-use sales have historically been limited to residents only.

Canada by virtually every measure is the ultimate cannabis industry experiment to date and cannabis enthusiasts around the world have closely watched the rollout of the legal adult-use industry in Canada. A major lingering question that often pops up is how many consumers in Canada make their purchases from licensed, regulated sources versus the unregulated market?

A legal cannabis industry will never 100% eliminate the unregulated market. After all, unregulated alcohol and cigarettes are still bought and sold in places where they have been legal for many years. With that being said, a successful legal cannabis industry should be able to compete with the unregulated market, which seems to be happening in Canada based on the results of a recent study, as highlighted in a recent NORML news release found below:

Waterloo, Canada: A growing number of Canadians who consume cannabis are obtaining it from the legal marketplace, according to data published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Investigators affiliated with the University of Waterloo, School of Public Health Sciences surveyed nearly 5,000 Canadian adults who acknowledged having purchased cannabis flowers within the past year.

Researchers reported that the percentage of consumers switching from the illicit market to the licit market increased from 2019 to 2020 and that the majority of respondents (58 percent) now acknowledge obtaining cannabis flowers from licensed retailers. The study’s authors attributed these changes in behavior to increases in retail availability and falling prices for cannabis products available in the legal marketplace.

The findings are consistent with those of a 2021 study published in the journal Health Reports which found that nearly 70 percent of cannabis consumers reported obtaining cannabis from a legal source, up from 47 percent in 2019.

Canada initially legalized the retail sale of cannabis in October 2018.

Full text of the study, “Cannabis flower prices and transitions to legal sources after legalization in Canada, 2019-2020,” appears in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.