(This story has been updated to clarify where microcultivators are able to sell their products.)
British Columbia accounted for almost all of Canada’s latest month-over-month increase in adult-use marijuana sales as the nation’s westernmost province is seeing improved access with a slate of new store openings.
Canada’s retail sales rose by 6.8 million Canadian dollars ($5.1 million) to CA$135 million from October to November.
Sales in British Columbia, meanwhile, increased CA$6 million, or 47%, in November to CA$19 million, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada. The data includes online and in-store sales.
The number of stores opening in British Columbia ramped up in recent months. In March, for example, only 14 stores were open, but that number grew to 79 by mid-November.
Another 83 stores were listed as “coming soon” that month, indicating that sales for December are likely to see a similar increase.
Meanwhile, consumer sales in November decreased in six of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories.
Ontario’s adult-use cannabis receipts fell by CA$1.2 million to CA$31.6 million, representing the biggest nominal decline.
Despite the gains seen in British Columbia of late, 1933 Industries founder Brayden Sutton said the province’s regulated sector has a long way to go.
The prevalence of the illicit market will continue until issues in the regulated market are addressed, such as quality, consistent inventory and affordability.
Sutton said microcultivators need more liberal access to regulated sales channels.
“If I’m a micro grower with a license,” he said, “I still need to piggyback on a licensed producer’s standard processing license before I can get into the B.C. system,” unless the microcultivator has its own processing license.
David Wood, cannabis industry focus group co-chair for the law firm Borden Ladner Gervais, attributed British Columbia’s improved numbers to “more stores and easier access,” which “means the demand can be better met by the regulated system,” he said.
Wood believes a greater retail presence makes it easier for non-B.C. residents to buy legal cannabis products.
“Out-of-province visitors are probably a big contributing factor, because they can’t buy regulated cannabis products on the (B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch’s) online store, and I suspect they are less familiar and comfortable with the local illicit market, which clearly is a big challenge in British Columbia,” he said.
A monthly breakdown of Canada’s adult-use cannabis sales is available here.
Matt Lamers is Marijuana Business Daily’s international editor, based near Toronto. He can be reached at [email protected].