Canada’s illicit marijuana industry bigger than domestic beer market

Canada’s black-market marijuana cultivation industry is larger than the country’s entire domestic brewing industry, according to a federal government agency, underscoring the importance that cannabis plays in Canada’s overall economy even before legalization this summer.

The findings are part of the first batch of data released by Statistics Canada’s Cannabis Economic Accounts, which is a set of provisional estimates related to marijuana production, consumption and distribution.

The agency pegged the size of the cannabis production industry (medical and nonmedical) at 3.4 billion Canadian dollars ($2.76 billion), just ahead of the local brewery industry’s CA$2.9 billion.

The estimates are for 2014, the most recent year cross-sector data is available.

Statistics Canada noted that a substantial amount of beer consumed in Canada is imported.

The government of Canada also has launched the Cannabis Stats Hub, a crowdsouring platform to collect data on prices across the country.

Other key findings from the Cannabis Economic Accounts:

  • 4.9 million Canadians 15-64 years old spent an estimated CA$5.7 billion on cannabis for medical and nonmedical purposes, equivalent to CA$1,200 per cannabis consumer.
  • Illegal marijuana exports were estimated to be around CA$1.2 billion last year.
  • 95% of the cannabis consumed in Canada was produced domestically last year, up from just 60% in 1960.
  • The price of cannabis has been falling since 1990, reaching CA$7.50 per gram in 2017.
  • Illicit cannabis production in Canada was worth almost three times more than legal domestic tobacco production in 2014.

Matt Lamers can be reached at [email protected]

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