As a means of understanding the pre-legalization landscape of cannabis in Canada, Statistics Canada has released an Economic Insights study on Canadian cannabis consumption, estimating the number of consumers and the volume of their consumption by examining data from 1960-2015.
According to the study, “Experimental Estimates of Cannabis Consumption in Canada, 1960 to 2015,” released on Dec. 18, 2017, approximately 4.9 million people aged 15 and older consumed 697.5 tons of medical and recreational cannabis in 2015, with an estimated value of C$5-6.2 billion. Statistics Canada calculated the estimated consumption values by assuming per gram prices of C$7.14 to C$8.84.
“This is (sic) would make the cannabis market in Canada in 2015 roughly one-half to two-thirds of the size of the $9.2 billion beer market or around 70% to 90% of the size of the $7.0 billion wine market,” researchers concluded in the study. “In other words, as a first effort to create a more complete numerical history for the illegal cannabis market in Canada, these estimates appear reasonable, and, although imperfect, they are the only long-term estimates currently available.”
Examining Canadian cannabis consumption by age, researchers found that youth dominated the cannabis market from the 1960s to 1980s, but that cannabis use by older age groups has continuously increased over time; by 2015, “persons older than 24 account for two-thirds of cannabis consumers while persons aged 15 to 17 account for less than 6%.”
In order to calculate the experimental estimates for its study, Statistics Canada used national and regional data from government social and health surveys, as well as secondary sources.
Once recreational cannabis rolls out in Canada on July 1, 2018, a range of cannabis data will be captured by social and economic statistics programs, with Statistics Canada planning to develop a post-legalization study on Canadian cannabis consumption and production so it can provide citizens and stakeholders with a before and after picture of the country’s recreational cannabis market.