Over 1 billion Canadian dollars ($780 million) of cannabis products were shipped from Canada last year through unregulated channels, according to a preliminary estimate from the government’s statistics agency.
The figure includes shipments approved by the regulatory body overseeing medical cannabis in Canada, “but they represent less than 1% of the total,” Conrad Barber-Dueck, chief of Statistics Canada’s National Economic Accounts Division, told Marijuana Business Daily.
“The vast majority are illegal shipments,” he said, adding that most are “probably” going to the U.S.
Almost 60% of the shipments are estimated to have originated in British Columbia.
The new estimates are part of the agency’s efforts to measure the production, sale and use of marijuana in an attempt to give businesses and governments a snapshot of the product’s economic impact before legalization later this year.
Statistics Canada estimated that 4.9 million Canadians spent CA$5.6 billion on cannabis for medical and nonmedical purposes in 2017, a slight revision from January’s estimate of CA$5.7 billion.
Nova Scotia leads in consumption per capita estimates with 27.1 grams per person per year, followed by British Columbia (24.6 grams) and Alberta (24.1 grams).
Statistics Canada compiled the data from several surveys, which it warned lack “certain details” and are “infrequently collected.”
Medical marijuana exports sanctioned by Heath Canada are soaring, but remain a fraction of black market shipments.
Legal exports of cannabis oil rose 300% in 2017 over the previous year to 400.4 kilograms. Just over 522 kilograms of dried cannabis was exported to four countries legally last year, more than 10 times the 44 kilograms shipped abroad in 2016.
Matt Lamers can be reached at email@example.com
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