Atlantic Canadians are spending far more on legal cannabis than the rest of Canada, according to the latest numbers from Statistics Canada.
Statistics Canada, a national statistics agency, released province-by-province sales data of legal cannabis from October 17, 2018, when the drug was legalized, to December 1, 2018.
The figures reveals dramatic differences in sales between provinces, with Atlantic provinces spending more on cannabis on average per person.
Residents of Prince Edward Island have spent $4.3 million on cannabis in the six weeks since legalization, which comes to an average of $13.83 per resident when calculated using StatsCan’s 2017 population data for the province.
On Wednesday, P.E.I.’s finance department said cannabis sales to the end of 2018 came to $3,509,913, which makes it $23.09 for every resident.
Residents in Nova Scotia spent the second most on cannabis according to StatsCan’s data, with an average of $11.34 per resident, followed by Newfoundland and Labrador at $8.17, then New Brunswick in third at $6.87.
The rest of the country had much smaller numbers in comparison. Albertans spent $4.53, Ontarians spent $1.54, Quebecers spent $2.53 and British Columbians just 69 cents on average per resident.
The national average per resident was $2.65.
Meanwhile, the total number of legal cannabis sales in Canada in November 2018 was $54 million, up little more than 25 per cent from the $43.1 million made in the first two weeks of legalization in October.
Again, total legal cannabis sales varied a lot between provinces in November. Sales in Ontario actually dropped from $11.7 million in October to $10.1 million in November, while in B.C., sales fell from $2.3 million in October to $1 million in November.
Sales increased in all the Atlantic provinces, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Alberta.
Alberta had the largest increase in sales, from $7.3 million in October to $12.1 million in November.
The reason for the disparity in sales could be due certain provinces, such as the Atlantic provinces, being well-prepared for legalization.
Another contributing factor could be whether provinces had in-person retail stores or not. Stores provide a richer experience for purchasing weed, where you can smell it first and talk to a budtender about what you are looking for.
Alberta, which had the most sales in November out of all the provinces, issued 17 cannabis retail licenses on October 17.
The reason for B.C.’s small amount of sales, coming in second last at $1 million in November, could be due to the province’s well-established grey market, where authorities have allowed independent dispensaries to remain open.
StatsCan’s figures cover legal recreational sales done both in-person and via online stores. It did not provide numbers for Northwest Territories, Nunavut or Manitoba, saying that the data was “suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act.”
The data comes as retailers continue to grapple with low supply.
Quebec’s cannabis agency, Societe quebecoise du Cannabis (SQDC), recently announced that it is cutting back on the expected points of sale in March 2020 from 50 originally outlined to now 40 due to supply shortages.