In its first-ever province-by-province forecast of the Canadian cannabis market, published Tuesday, Colorado-based Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics expect nationwide legal cannabis sales to grow by more than 44 per cent every year, eventually surpassing $5.2-billion by 2024. While report author Tom Adams notes that is a “more conservative forecast than past ones,” the report also finds some provinces will be pulling more than their relative weight and others will be relative laggards. Below, Cannabis Professional graphs the report’s core data projections and summarizes its three most interesting conclusions.
Legalization somehow slowed 2018 growth
In percentage growth terms, Canadian cannabis actually had a better year in 2017 than in 2018, despite the marketing opening up to all adults instead of only those with a doctor’s prescription for the final 10 weeks of 2018. The report found total sales of both medical and recreational cannabis totalled $569-million in 2018, representing an increase of 65 per cent from the previous year. That might look impressive on its own, that is, until one learns the $330-million of only medicinal pot sold in 2017 was 84 per cent more in dollar terms than total sales from 2016.
Medical market to drop
Jurisdictions in the United States that started with medical legalization before moving on to full adult-use cannabis markets saw it first, so while the imminent decline of the Canadian medical cannabis market might be predictable, the speed of that decline forecasted by the report is nonetheless noteworthy. Medical cannabis sales across Canada more than doubled every year from 2014 to 2018, surpassing $456-million last year. Starting in 2019, however, the report notes some patients will avoid the prescription process and go straight to the recreational market, cutting sales by roughly 3 per cent every year and falling to $382-million by 2024. The total number of registered medical cannabis patients in Canada is projected to decline by more than 60,000 to fewer than 300,000 over that timeline.
Alberta loves pot, Quebec not so much
Despite being home to less than 12 per cent of the Canadian population, Albertans purchased $217-million worth of legal cannabis in 2018, the report found, representing 28 per cent of total national sales. Part of that can be attributed to the province’s comparably robust network of retail storefronts, the report says, though over the next several years Alberta is expected to contribute 16 per cent or $725-million per year to total Canadian cannabis sales, remaining well above what its population would suggest. Quebec, meanwhile, is home to 26 per cent of the total Canadian population but the report says the province will account for only 15 per cent of the total increase in cannabis sales between 2018 and 2024.