Canadians spent almost the same amount of money on black-market cannabis in 2015 as they did on wine, according to a new estimate by Statistics Canada, indicating the legalized marijuana sector could give the country’s alcohol industry a run for its money come legalization in mid-2018.

The country’s underground cannabis market in 2015 was worth as much as 6.2 billion Canadian dollars ($4.8 billion), or roughly 90% of the size of the CA$7 billion wine market and two-thirds of the country’s CA$9.2 billion beer market, the country’s statistics agency reported.

Economists have warned alcohol makers that the legalization of marijuana could sap at least CA$160 million out of their industry, and cannabis producers are bracing for competition.

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Conclusions from the Statistics Canada report:
  • Canadians consumed a record-high 697.48 kilograms (1,539 pounds) of cannabis in 2015, an impressive 47% increase in only five years. (Cannabis consumption currently exceeds 900 kilograms per year, according to Marijuana Business Daily.)
  • A record 16.29% of Canadians consumed cannabis in 2015, an increase from just 11.86% in 2010.
  • The most prevalent users of cannabis were in the 18-24 age bracket (38%), followed by 15-17-year-olds (23%).
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