Cannabis in Canada from Legalization in 2018 Until Today
Three years have passed since the legalization of marijuana in Canada. It has been a rough journey, especially for legal cannabis producers who had to struggle with government regulations and the imposing threat from the illicit market, in addition to the global pandemic. Nevertheless, it is a story of triumph and a bright future for legal cannabis users and producers.
A Brief History of Cannabis Legalization in Canada
Cannabis or marijuana has been used since ancient times for its therapeutic benefits. Archaeological evidence suggests that the Egyptians have been using Cannabis at least 5,000 years before the present time. In ancient China, they infused the plan in tea for medicinal purposes.
The cannabis plant has been used as a therapeutic substance for thousands of years. Medical marijuana pertains to products made from the active ingredients of cannabis plants. These primarily refer to the cannabinoids and terpenes that are intended for medicinal use.
In 1923, Cannabis and all its derivative products were banned in Canada. The prohibition of the plant was due to the psychoactive effects of THC, its most active cannabinoid. It was only in 2001 that Canada made medical marijuana legal.
The Legalization of Medical Cannabis
On July 30, 2001, the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) was passed. This allowed Cannabis to become an option for treating various medical conditions for registered patients. These patients were allowed to grow Cannabis, designate other people to grow it on their behalf, or buy it from Health Canada.
In 2014, the bill was renewed as the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR). It established a licensing system for the production of Cannabis, which required patients to buy Cannabis only from licensed producers instead of growing Cannabis themselves.
This move made medical marijuana out of the reach of many patients who cannot afford to pay premium prices for cannabis products. In 2016, MMPR was ruled unconstitutional as it barred many patients from accessing medical marijuana.
Eventually, the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations was enforced. The act's goal was to improve the access of patients to medical marijuana by allowing personal cultivation of the plant, as was originally intended in 2001.
Under the new rule, Health Canada requires both designated and personal growers have to register before they are allowed to cultivate Cannabis. Patients can still buy from licensed growers but can also grow their medicine at their discretion. By September of 2018, around 340,000 people registered under the ACMPR.
Marijuana Legalization in Canada
In October 2018, Canada legalized medicinal and recreational Cannabis under the Cannabis Act Bill C-45, which allows adults 18 years of age and above to cultivate, possess, use, and purchase Cannabis without having to worry about legal persecution.
By the time cannabis use was legalized, the registration of medical marijuana users plateaued. Health Canada reported that only 35,227 patients registered for personal cultivation of Cannabis as of March 2020. Around 329,038 people registered with a federally licensed producer, a significant 11% decrease since September 2019.
Under the Cannabis Act, a certified Canadian medical practitioner has to prescribe you medical Cannabis before obtaining a Health Canada ACMPR License. Many companies offer to pair patients with certified practitioners. The legal, certified practitioner will write you a prescription after a short consultation. You can then purchase cannabis products from licensed sellers.
Based on Health Canada’s database, Ontario has the largest regulated market in Canada. As of March 2020, 171,107 people registered as medical patients, which accounts for more than half of all registered medical patients in the country.
With the legalization of Cannabis, the federal government grants producers the ability to cultivate, produce, and export cannabis products to other countries. According to the Marijuana Business Daily, the exportation of Cannabis represents a considerable growth opportunity for the country’s licensed producers.
Based on the data provided by the Marijuana Business Daily, licensed producers exported around 3,740 kilos of dried Cannabis for scientific and medical use in 2019. Around 94% of these exports went to Germany.
The Impact of Covid on Cannabis Consumption and Online Sales
Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, the cannabis industry was still considered essential in Canada. Some companies opted to move from brick-and-mortar businesses to online operations. Others maintained their local brick-and-mortar dispensaries while building their online stores.
The pandemic had a positive impact not only on the sale of alcohol but on Cannabis, as well. Because of travel restrictions, consumers had to turn to online stores to get supplies. As a response to the high demand for cannabis products, Health Canada extended the registration of licensed sellers and users.
Continuing Research on Medical Cannabis
Health Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research are investing in continual research on the medical purposes of Cannabis and cannabinoids. Even after three years of legalization, there is no significant data on the health risks of weed or the health and safety of cannabis use. However, continuing scientific studies may soon benefit the Canadian public and other people around the world.
Since the legalization of marijuana in 2018, the cannabis industry in Canada has come a long way. Although there is no way we can predict the industry’s future, we can say that it will continue to evolve and impact the lives of people who depend on it for its intended medical benefits.
Legal Cannabis vs Black Market Cannabis
After the legalization of Cannabis, many recreational marijuana users on online forums ditched government cannabis for its low quality. Indeed, the legal market was quite new, and many weed users still swear by the quality of Cannabis on the illegal market.
The black market proved to be a difficult enemy for many legal weed producers. Many companies faced financial losses while others had to close cultivation greenhouses.
The contention for some consumers was that legal Cannabis was low-quality and expensive. When the Canadian government surveyed marijuana consumers, they found out that 40% of the sample population admitted to buying black-market weed after the legalization.
Main Reasons for Low Sales Volume of Legal Cannabis
According to experts, one compelling reason for the low sales of legal Cannabis was higher prices. Naturally, increased taxes make legal weed more expensive. Consequently, consumers gravitate towards buying cheaper weed from illegal sources.
Also, government regulations restrict companies from developing their brands. It is prohibited to advertise on mainstream channels. Restrictions make it difficult for weed companies to build brand identity and a loyal following.
In some areas, companies found it difficult to open new dispensaries due to local authorities barring them from operating in their jurisdiction. There were not enough points of sale for legal Cannabis, and the black market continued to thrive.
Combating the Black Market
One of the main reasons for the legalization of marijuana was to combat the black market. Although the legalization was put into place, the illicit trade of marijuana continues to thrive.
Fortunately, the legal cannabis industry is making a comeback. Since the legalization, black market sales started to plummet as legal cannabis sales continued to rise. Statistics Canada shows that by the third quarter of 2020, legal cannabis sales equaled the black market sales. By the fourth quarter of 2020, legal Cannabis took over the reins, and the black market continued to erode.
What is Black Market Cannabis
The black market is an unregulated underground market where goods and services are traded illegally. Black market cannabis is traded outside the regulations and framework of federal legislation.
Black market weed is primarily sold through illegal online websites, unlicensed dispensaries, and street vendors. Supply for these three channels comes from illegal producers, often organized crime syndicates or gang-affiliated organizations that sell illegal drugs. They are not regulated by the government and do not pay any taxes.
Why You Should Not Buy Illicit Cannabis
When you buy Cannabis from an illicit source, you are running the risk of consuming contaminated products, falling victim to scams or mislabeled products, engaging in illegal activity as a consequence, and getting a lack of customer care.
Although some consumers praise illicit Cannabis for its quality and low price, not all consumers are experts on Cannabis. It means that you could fall victim to false advertising. The people providing positive reviews on the Internet may be connected to the supplier of the illegal products.
When you get low-quality products from the seller, you have a very slim chance to get a replacement. You cannot even leave a review or a comment on the product because it is unregulated. Plus, you may not get to know who the seller is or how to contact him or her again.
The Beauty of Legalization
Indeed, legal weed may cost more than illegal weed, but there are reasons for the higher pricing. Producers and sellers have to abide by quality standards or lose their license to produce and sell.
Health Canada has a set of strict health standards. When these are followed by producers, the consumers benefit from it immensely. Black market weed is unregulated and does not undergo any regulatory safeguards that protect the consumer.
The black market products may get tainted with moulds, fungus, pesticides, and heavy metals with no regulation in place. If you have allergies, you may get exposed to pollutants in these illegal products.
Does Buying Legal Weed Have Financial Benefits?
Although most Canadian weed consumers buy weed for recreational purposes, around 50% of them take Cannabis for medical reasons. They consume Cannabis to combat anxiety and depression. They also use it to alleviate chronic pain or fall asleep much faster.
Legal Cannabis is not only safer for consumption. Also, it provides you with financial incentives, especially if you take weed for medical purposes. These benefits include:
- Using medical cannabis purchase as a tax-deductible expense
- Claim insurance coverage on medical Cannabis for selected conditions
- Benefit from social assistance programs
- Get higher carry and storage limits as a registered patient
If you want to enjoy the benefits mentioned above, you have to get a prescription from a licensed medical practitioner. Then, you should buy your Cannabis from a legal producer.
The Current Cannabis Market in Canada
In 2020, the legal cannabis market beat the illicit market in sales volume, bringing in a whopping $2.6B in revenue. The growth is attributed to increased access to retail stores, expanded cannabis e-commerce, more competitive pricing compared to the black market, and retailers adapting to the global pandemic.
The Impact of Product Diversification
As the cannabis market continued to expand, companies came up with diverse products to offer to consumers. Value brands emerged, and pricing became more competitive. The improvement in the price led to the conversion of customers from the black market to the legal market.
As different kinds of cannabis vapes, concentrates, edibles and drinkables flooded the market, it brought in a wave of new consumers buying products in the regulated markets.
Consuming Cannabis became less intimidating. Smoking cannabis to get your dose of THC is not the only option. You do not have to taste earthy and grassy CBD oil every time you need chronic pain relief. You can vape it, eat it, or drink it.
A few years ago, vaping was introduced as an alternative to smoking tobacco. Today, the cannabis industry is taking a large chunk of the vaping market. You can now find countless vapes with CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids in them.
Smoking and vaping are not discreet ways to consume marijuana. These methods of consumption are too noticeable and can annoy other people around you. However, you can now eat or drink your Cannabis. The most popular edibles today are gummies. They are delicious, easy to eat, discreet, and contain exact doses of cannabinoids.
You can also find cannabis topicals in stores now. You can apply CBD-infused cream on localized pain points on your body and get immediate pain relief. Companies come up with creative ways to add cannabinoids to different kinds of products.
The bottom line is that Cannabis is making its way into different kinds of products, making it more appealing and attractive to consumers.
While sales in 2020 grew to a 118% increase compared to 2019, cannabis producers are on track to increase revenue by 60%. in 2021. This impressive growth results from the ingenuity of cannabis producers in producing a variety of high-quality products and improving the price points of these products to compete with the illicit market.
What the Numbers Say
Of course, it is essential to validate the increasing number of sales in the legal cannabis market with actual reports. According to a market report by Brighton Group, here are some facts to consider:
- Cannabis adult-use sales grew from $1.2B in 2019 to a staggering $2.6B in 2020
- Adult-use sales are expected to grow by 60% in 2021
- Price drops and retail openings, especially in Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec, were seen as the striking catalysts for the sudden growth in 2020
- Product diversification had an impact on the increase in sales and new customers.
Although the global pandemic may have caused some retail outlets to close in 2019, it also promoted e-commerce activity for cannabis products. As more compelling brands continue to enter the market, we will continue to expect further growth in the cannabis industry.
Fast Facts About Cannabis in Canada
If you are a tourist visiting Canada, be aware that recreational and medicinal marijuana are legal. Just like alcohol, the sale and use of Cannabis are regulated by the federal and the provincial governments. If you plan on visiting, here are crucial fast facts you need to know:
- Never bring Cannabis in or out of Canada. You can be penalized for possessing marijuana as you enter or leave the country. Remember that marijuana is still illegal in many parts of the world.
- You have to be of legal age to possess, buy, and use Cannabis in Canada. The minimum age is 18 or 19 years old, depending on the province you are located in. You have to be 19 years old if you are in British Columbia and Ontario.
- Before you take cannabis products, you have to be aware that cannabinoids can harm your health, especially if you consume them in excess. For example, too much THC is known to cause anxiety and paranoia.
- Just like alcohol, you are not allowed to drive under the influence of Cannabis because it constitutes a criminal offence. Drug-impaired driving may cause injury to yourself or others, especially when you are in a psychoactive state or too sedated to perform activities that require fine motor skills. Law enforcement can determine your level of intoxication and charge you with the appropriate criminal penalties if you exceed the legal limit.
- Legal Cannabis has an excise stamp with colours that correspond to the territory or province it was bought.
- There are certain areas where you are prohibited from consuming marijuana. Always check with provincial laws to avoid getting into trouble with the law. If you are staying in a lodge or hotel, ask the owners or managers where you can legally smoke weed.
- As an adult, you are allowed to have a limit of 30 grams of dried Cannabis in your possession. You should not buy from an illicit seller or risk getting in trouble with the law. Always buy from an authorized source.
Failure to abide by Canadian law will get you fined or incarcerated, depending on the severity of your cannabis offence. Be wise in spending your time in Canada. Never bring weed with you when you depart from the country or risk getting jailed.
Where to Buy Cannabis in Canada
It has been three years since the legalization of marijuana in Canada. We have seen ups and downs in the industry but legal Cannabis finally beat the black market. Although illicit sales of Cannabis may never stop, the production of new lines of cannabis products, plus the improvement in the price of these products, means that consumers have better access to legal, safe, and high-quality weed.
At ARCannabis, we aim to deliver high-quality cannabis products to our beloved customers. We make sure to give you the best customer service and experience. We know how important customer relationships are. We value everyone who comes to our shop, and we guarantee that you will love our products.
We offer a variety of different products. If you love a smoking flower, we offer different strains of Cannabis to provide you with different euphoric, relaxing, and energizing effects every time you smoke weed. If you do not have the time to roll joints and blunts, we offer prerolls that you can smoke at any time.
We know that smoking is not for everyone. Hence, we also offer concentrates and vape products containing various distilled cannabis extracts from different strains of Cannabis. Like smoking, vapes and concentrates can deliver the cannabinoids straight to your bloodstream in a matter of minutes.
Some people may be worried about the health effects of smoking and vaping. Do not worry. You can still enjoy the wonderful psychoactive effects of THC and the medicinal benefits of CBD without getting smoke or vapour in your lungs. We sell cannabis edibles of different kinds and flavours. You can consume these edibles and drinkables anytime discreetly.
We have cannabis tinctures, topicals, and accessories as well. Visit and check our ARCannabis shop when you happen to be in British Columbia. Let us show you the ARCannabis experience. As a customer, we will treat you with the utmost care, and you will leave our doors with great products in your hands.
Canada is a role model when it comes to the legal sale of recreational and medicinal marijuana. The legalization of Cannabis eroded the illicit market and lessened the crime rate on cannabis-related offences.
Today, producers have come a long way to provide consumers with various quality and competitively-priced cannabis products. As more research is on its way to revealing the medicinal benefits of Cannabis, we expect a bright future for the thriving cannabis industry in the country.