Legal dried cannabis in Canada struggles to compete with illicit market on price

Dried cannabis in Canada’s legal market is significantly more expensive than it is in the illicit market, according to new crowdsourced data collected by Statistics Canada.

Market watchers say that could be one of the reasons the country’s legal sales have been so poor in the first six months of legalization – along with a slow rollout of physical storefronts, inconsistent inventory and a lack of product formulations.

Canadians paid 56.8% more for dried cannabis in legal channels than they did from illicit sources since legalization last October, according to the data.

A major caveat is that the data accounts only for price variances in dried flower – just one segment of the overall market.

Since Oct. 17, 2018, consumers purchasing dried cannabis through legal channels paid 9.99 Canadian dollars ($7.47) per gram on average, compared with buyers from illicit sources who paid an average of CA$6.37 per gram.

As the price of cannabis rose sharply since legalization, sales across the country have ranged between lackluster and terrible.

Sales started strong in October, with CA$43 million for the month, then rose to CA$53 million the following month and CA$55 million in December before falling to CA$53 million in January.

The crowdsourced data also showed where prices of dried marijuana rose the fastest.

“Prices in New Brunswick, which were among the lowest in Canada before Oct. 17, recorded the largest growth since legalization, up 30.5% per gram for dried cannabis to an average price of CA$8.27 per gram,” Health Canada noted.

Manitoba saw the second-highest growth in price since legalization, up 27.7% per gram.

British Columbia reported the lowest increase in average price in Canada – up 3.7% since legalization.

Matt Lamers can be reached at