Canada’s Prairie Provinces Have Had Most Success With Legal Cannabis: Report

A year after legalization, the cannabis market in Canada has proven to be most successful in the Prairie provinces, according to a new report.

The provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta have seen a smoother rollout and stronger sales of legal cannabis than larger provinces such as Ontario and Quebec, according to data from the BCMI Cannabis Report, a newsletter for cannabis investors in Canada and the U.S.

In Canada’s two largest provinces, poor regulatory frameworks and slow-to-open stores have meant that the industry underperformed in its first year. Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta have succeeded by allowing private retailers to sell products and opening the door to e-commerce sales.

According to BCMI Cannabis Report, Alberta has led the country in per-capita sales over the past year and the provincial government has passed on discounts from licensed producers to retailers, dropping prices for customers in the process. This past July, Statistics Canada reported that legal cannabis sales surpassed $21 million in Alberta compared to $29.6 million in Ontario, which has more than three times the population.

Saskatchewan reported $6.3 million in sales from cannabis stores in July, the latest month for which data is available, according to Statistics Canada. In Manitoba, the agency reported monthly sales from cannabis stores have climbed steadily from $4.2 million in December 2018 to $5.8 million in July 2019.

Much of the success on the prairies can be attributed to the number of legal stores that have proliferated in those provinces compared to their larger provincial counterparts. Manitoba currently has 26 operational stores and Saskatchewan has 37. Ontario, with more than 10 times Manitoba's population, had 25 stores. Quebec, with a population over six times Manitoba's had 21 legal cannabis stores.