BRAUN: Legal cannabis has doubled in one year


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Liz Braun Chemdawg marijuana plants grow at a facility in Smiths Falls in October 2019. Chemdawg marijuana plants grow at a facility in Smiths Falls in October 2019. Photo by REUTERS / Blair Gable /.Toronto Sun.

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Last fall, legal cannabis sales in Canada finally caught up with black market transactions.

In 2020, the country sold legal marijuana worth $ 2.6 billion, about 120% more than the total of $ 1.2 billion in 2019.

According to Matt Lamers, international editor at Marijuana Business Daily, better products and lower prices have contributed to the surge in legal sales.

(And so does COVID. As with alcohol, cannabis use has increased during the pandemic as people seek stress relievers.)

Overall, legal cannabis has been a huge hit, especially in Ontario.

“But there was increasing pain,” said Lamers. No pun intended.

Some larger cannabis companies have had problems, mostly due to their own management flaws. They’re on the news all the time for losing money, which makes people believe the industry is in trouble.

However, these results reflect bad corporate decisions and have nothing to do with the cannabis market.


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“If they were automakers, it would be like making just one type of car instead of a fleet to attract a wide range of consumers,” Lamers said.

“Instead of 15 choices, they just made the Toyota Corolla – there was a shortage of the kind of cannabis people wanted. They had a lot of low quality products and not enough medium or high quality, and what they had was too expensive. “

Now there are better products at better prices and with things like groceries and vapes more readily available.

“Sales are growing steadily every month.”

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Lamers said he believes things are going in the right direction, but legal cannabis prices are still a little too high and “out of stock” in government business is sending people back to the black market.

The illegal market will not go away entirely for a few years, he added.

“And maybe never quite, because this is a plant and anyone can grow it.”

At the moment, small producers are doing better than big ones.

“Small producers can better adapt to consumer needs. Eventually, some of them become profitable. Consumers will appreciate the quality. “

As for the pot shops that seem to be proliferating in Toronto, Lamers said, adding, “We still have a long way to go before we reach saturation.”

There are US statistics on it, ”and the general rule of thumb is one business for every 10,000 people. That’s how big the cannabis market is. “

The Ontario Alcohol and Gambling Commission (AGCO) reported on their website that they are now issuing 30 retail business permits per week. There are currently 430 authorized retail cannabis stores open in the province.


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It seems fair to say that there will be a lot more to come.

Cannabis was a success story during the pandemic, Lamers said. “On the whole, the industry is doing very well. Consumers have shown that they want to buy in stores. And they want to shop legally.

“They want the legal option – if the product is of sufficient quality and the price is right.”


As products evolve and become more sophisticated, Toronto-based Olli creates a range of carefully curated cannabis-infused foods.

“We think of food before we think of cannabis. Our products have to taste good, ”said Tess Fox, director of business development and strategic initiatives at Olli.

“What sets us apart is that these are high-quality, handcrafted products that taste incredibly good.”

On the food side, Olli has head chef Adrian Niman (Food Dudes) and on the cannabis side, the highly regarded Medi-Pharm Labs based in Barrie.

Olli products, such as the popular dragon fruit and strawberry chew, are made in small quantities, both for quality control and for quick adaptation to trends and changing tastes in the industry.

“We only focus on food, not growth, distillation or anything else,” said Fox, who said the company is independent of the larger licensed producers. “That gives us more creativity with our food.”

Olli products are available in stores in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and BC, or through the Ontario Cannabis Store.

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