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article imageOntario's legal adult-use cannabis sales hit new low

By Karen Graham     Apr 30, 2019 in Business
Ontario - Statistics Canada data shows that Canadians bought less legal cannabis for the second consecutive month in February, or about $49.9 million worth, while in Ontario, online sales from Ontario's Cannabis Store hit a fresh new low in February.
Sales at the Ontario Cannabis Store declined to just 7.5 million Canadian dollars ($5.6 million), down from almost $9 million in January, according to Statistics Canada data published this month.
The data on cannabis sales does not include retail marijuana stores in Ontario because the first stores didn't open until April 1. Through the end of March, all sales were conducted online by the struggling Ontario Cannabis Store. Sales of marijuana have been so bad that the Bank of Montreal (BMO) has warned that revenues from the industry would come in lower than expected over the coming quarters.
“The pace of new bricks-and-mortar store openings, particularly in Ontario – beginning April 1 – will likely be gradual, which may also limit the level of recreational sales over the coming quarters,” the bank noted in an April 1 report.
Employee Jason Gagne trims cannabis plants at Up's factory in Lincoln  Ontario
Employee Jason Gagne trims cannabis plants at Up's factory in Lincoln, Ontario
Lars Hagberg, AFP/File
Pot business slows across Canada in February
Statistics Canada is reporting that sales ramped up to a high of more than $57.3 million worth of cannabis sold in December, after notching more than $53.7 million in sales in November and more than $41.4 million sold in October following legalization taking place on Oct. 17.
In January, sales nationwide declined to $54.8 million and only $49,692 in February. Alberta led the country with $12.3 million in marijuana sales, followed by Quebec’s $11.3 million. However, Newfoundland saw sales decline 35 percent in sales while British Columbia's sales were only $1.9 million for the month.
Another report from Statistics Canada, produced in March showed that the black market accounted for 80 percent of cannabis sales in 2018. The agency said annual Canadian household spending on cannabis totaled $5.9 billion in 2018, with $4.7 billion spent on black market products and about $1.2 billion for legal weed.
It would be safe to assume that 20 percent of legal weed was purchased after marijuana sales were legalized in October 2018. But based on StatCanada's March report, people are still worried about the quality and safety of legal cannabis, and the accuracy of measurements for active ingredients on product labels, reports the Vancouver Courier.
Ontario's plan to revive lagging pot sales
It is unknown at this time how sales from Ontario's 11 retail marijuana stores will impact the province's cannabis revenues for April. But the province believes that rolling out more retail stores will help to shore up the poor sales data from the Ontario Cannabis Store.
Warning label on bag of cannabis in Ontario
Warning label on bag of cannabis in Ontario
Lars Hagberg, AFP/File
On April 12, Ontario announced plans to prequalify privately owned cannabis retailers by the end of the year and has recommitted to eventually lifting the province’s “temporary” limit of 25 stores.
Ontario's government is hopeful the move will reverse what it calls the “national cannabis shortage.” The federal government is disputing the province's claim, saying Canada “has sufficient supply.”
In related news, on Friday, the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation, which conducts e-commerce as the Ontario Cannabis Store, has canceled its tender for couriers to make same-day pot deliveries. The notice of cancellation was posted on its website.
On January 19, the OCRC posted a tender call for same-day delivery that would launch beginning on March 1, with the possibility of the pilot project being extended after the end of the year. As for why the OCRC canceled the request, they are not commenting.
More about Ontario cannabis store, declining sales, poor rollout of stores, Black market, national cannabis shortage
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