How many legal cannabis stores are in Canada – and how accessible are they for consumers across the country?
MJBizDaily’s new map of Canadian cannabis retail distribution has those answers, offering a bird’s-eye view of Canada’s regulated marijuana retail sector, including:
- National and provincial cannabis store numbers.
- The concentration of brick-and-mortar stores per 10,000 residents.
- The number of cannabis stores in major Canadian cities.
The map – based on provincial store and licensing data – underscores Canada’s uneven distribution of regulated marijuana retailers.
Although recreational marijuana legalization was a federal government initiative in Canada, regulating retail stores is the domain of the nation’s 13 provincial and territorial governments, with each government taking its own approach.
Unlike adult-use marijuana, regulated medical cannabis in Canada is not sold through brick-and mortar stores.
Alberta, which is Canada’s fourth-largest province by population, continues to lead the country in terms of access to regulated adult-use marijuana stores, with more than two cannabis stores per 10,000 residents as of the start of 2023.
Ontario and Saskatchewan are tied for second place in terms of store concentration, with roughly 1.3 stores per 10,000 residents.
At the other end of the spectrum, Quebec continues to have far fewer marijuana stores than any other jurisdiction in Canada, with its provincial retail monopoly Société québécoise du cannabis operating 93 locations as of January 2023.
That helps explain why Quebec lags behind smaller provinces in terms of monthly cannabis sales, despite being Canada’s second-most-populous province.
Other provinces with provincial cannabis retail monopolies (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island) also have notably low ratios of stores to residents, although New Brunswick does allow farm-gate cannabis stores in the private sector.
MJBizDaily created the map by collecting and processing retail store and licensing data from cannabis authorities in all 13 of Canada’s provincial and territorial jurisdictions.
However, in Canada’s most valuable provincial cannabis market of Ontario, publicly available store counts might slightly overstate the number of stores that are actually open.
That’s because that province’s cannabis retail regulator, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), publishes the number of store licenses that have been issued rather than the number of stores in business. Some licensed stores might not be open to the public.
For example, while AGCO reported roughly 1,700 licensed stores in the province as of late January 2023, the Ontario Cannabis Store wholesaler told MJBizDaily that 1,643 stores had active accounts. That suggests some licensed stores weren’t actually ordering inventory.
Some other provincial cannabis store figures might also overcount because of store closures or shops that were licensed but didn’t actually open for business.
For population figures, MJBizDaily uses Statistics Canada’s quarterly population estimates.
MJBizDaily will update the map twice every month as new information comes available.
Solomon Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.