Toilet paper wasn’t the only thing Canadians went ape over when the coronavirus hit the fan back in March. They immediately started stocking up on weed, too.
What, did the federal government think we were going to quarantine sober?! No, no it didn’t. In fact, it almost immediately deemed government-operated cannabis and alcohol retailers as “essential services” and ordered them to remain open.
As a result of the panic over a potential supply shortage—or maybe just our nation’s growing appetite for legal green—sales of cannabis shot up 19 percent in March, one of the largest monthly pops since legalization in 2018. Statistics Canada reported Friday that Canadians purchased $181 million worth of weed in March.
This elevated number flies in the face of the rest of the retail market, which in Canada is suffering a record 10 percent decline nationally.
Ontario was the bud-thirstiest, unsurprisingly, selling $47 million through its fewer than 100 stores. Alberta’s 400 stores moved $40 million worth of product, marking the second biggest month for the province. Quebec, meanwhile, experienced the biggest increase, up 27 percent from $29 million to $37 million over the month.
The only province that didn’t experience an uptick in cannabis sales in March was Prince Edward Island, which closed its stores on short notice at the beginning of March and sold exclusively online—PEI’s four stores reopened on May 22.
But amidst the boon, some provincial private retailers feel they’re not getting their fair share. In BC, for example, where the provincial retailer has a monopoly on online sales over its independent competition, private dispensaries are starting to kick up a fuss.
“Government is continually reviewing cannabis-related policies to ensure we are supporting the continued growth of the industry while also keeping public safety top of mind,” the Attorney General’s office of the BC Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch told Kamloops This Week.
Whether the monthly increase in sales was an anomaly caused by the coronavirus or a sign of a blossoming (finally!) legal pot industry is still TBD. But 4/20 was in April, and April does come after March, so...