Legal cannabis sales down for second straight month across Canada

Statistics Canada sales data shows that sales for weed peaked in December

Cannabis is for sale at an illegal dispensary | Rob Kruyt

Statistics Canada data shows that Canadians bought less legal cannabis for the second consecutive month in February, or about $49.9 million worth.

The national statistics agency’s numbers show that sales ramped up to a high of more than $57.3 million worth of cannabis sold in December, after notching more than $53.7 million in sales in November and more than $41.4 million sold in October following legalization taking place on  October 17.

After that December high, sales fell to more than $54.8 million in January and then further in February.

Concerns about the quality and safety of legal cannabis, and the accuracy of measurements for active ingredients on product labels, have shaken some consumers’ confidence in the nascent legalized cannabis sector, as Business in Vancouver reported earlier this month.

The fear for governments is that if consumers do not warm to pricier, legal cannabis products, and instead stick with their illegal dealers, governments will lose tax revenue and the black market will continue to thrive.

Statistics Canada data released on March 1 showed that the black market held an 80% grip on cannabis sales. The agency said annualized Canadian household spending on cannabis totalled $5.9 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018, with $4.7 billion spent on black market products and about $1.2 billion for legal weed.

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom