Chart: Consumption habits changing in Canada’s booming medical marijuana market

The number of medical marijuana patients in Canada skyrocketed in recent months, and patterns of consumption are evolving as the market grows.

The latest data from Health Canada shows patient counts in the country reached nearly 300,000 in March, up from 175,000 in April 2017 – a 70% increase.

Further data from the government – which includes detailed records of MMJ sales from licensed producers to patients – reveals two key findings:

  • Consumption on a per-patient basis has declined as more Canadians join the program.
  • Sales of cannabis oil are growing, but the market remains dominated by flower.

Assuming that the average THC content of both dry flower and cannabis oil sold in Canada is 18% (in line with research examining THC content in legal marijuana markets throughout the U.S.), average daily THC consumption on a per-patient basis in April 2017 was 73.1 milligrams, 90% of which came from flower. In March 2018, average daily THC consumption per patient fell to 54 milligrams – a 26% decline – with 85% coming from flower.

While individual usage can vary greatly, these results point to broad trends playing out in the market.

Declining per-patient consumption indicates that patient growth is increasing at a faster rate than sales of dry cannabis and cannabis oil, likely driven by newer patients joining the MMJ program and treating less chronic or severe conditions that require lower doses of THC.

These new patients appear to show a preference for cannabis oil, boosting average daily per-patient consumption of oil as they enter the market.

Though flower consumption is on the decline, limitations on potency and product choice for cannabis oils – combined with higher prices – have kept the use of flower as the primary method of ingestion for most MMJ patients.

Unlike many markets in the U.S., Canada limits the amount of THC in cannabis oil to 30 milligrams per milliliter, or 30%.

No high-potency concentrates, such as wax or shatter, or edibles, such as cookies or brownies, are sold in Canada’s MMJ market, though edibles may be allowed next year.

Eli McVey can be reached at [email protected]

7 comments on “Chart: Consumption habits changing in Canada’s booming medical marijuana market
  1. Norton from downstairs on

    Question: Does the Canadian National Health System pay the cost of MMJ? If so, it may be important to understand (as well as note this in such articles) that if Canadian citizens are getting their marijuana paid for by “all the other taxpaying citizens” of Canada, as opposed to having to pay for it out of their own pockets, it’s no wonder the MMJ program is growing.

    • Maxcatski on

      No, the government does not pay for medical cannabis in Canada. As a matter of fact, patients generally pay their own prescription costs in Canada, even with national Healthcare. Cannabis is not described as a prescription in any case but as an authorisation. There is no Drug Identification Number (DIN) assigned to cannabis.

      The number if patients is up yet the average sold is down. One reason is because medical users are allowed to self produce. I have purchased very little pot from the Legal Providers since my permit to grow arrived.

      The heaviest consumers typically don’t buy expensive legal pot. If they can’t self produce, they turn to the black market.

      • Alex on

        Please stop spreading false information Max. Medical cannabis users are entitled to claim medical expenses on tax returns when filling out the paperwork.

    • Maxcatski on

      And we don’t call it “marijuana” here in Canada either. Even the government program is named the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR).

      • CBD Lawyer on

        With the rise of hemp-based CBD as a “legal” alternative to medical marijuana, the term marijuana is now used to distinguish between hemp and marijuana strains of cannabis. Although the term marijuana has a checkered past, words can evolve and we can reclaim them and put them to use for good.

  2. Norton from downstairs on

    A) who gives a rat’s ass what you want to call it in Canada… marijuana is marijuana. It’s NOT “ACMPR”.

    CBD Lawyer… I think, if in fact you really are a lawyer, you belong on the 9th “Circus” Court of Appeals if you truly want mince words, over words. Absolutely ridiculous!

    • Not an American on

      Tell that to the regulators in Michigan and their “Marihuana Tax Act of 1937”. Because of their poor knowledge of spelling medical marijuana shops are not allowed to call themselves dispensaries, pharmacies, drugstores or apothecaries, as doing so will risk their losing their retail license. They can only call themselves “provisioning centers”, on paper.

      America is so full of crazy twists like this haha go Canada!

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