Illegal cannabis dealers still hold a price advantage over licensed government pot shops, federal statistics show.
As of March 31, the national average price of cannabis from all sources was $8.04 per gram. Legal cannabis was $9.99 on average compared to an average illicit price of $6.37.
Those averages are from the period since October’s legalization.
Statistics Canada, informally known as StatCan, began collecting data early last year through StatsCannabis. That’s an online hub including a crowd-sourcing platform to gather information about national cannabis use, including how much Canadians are paying, the quantity and quality, reasons for buying and average usage and consumption.
People avoiding government-licensed operations cited poor quality, higher prices or inaccessibility of pot shops as reasons to head to their tried-and-true dealers.
The bulk of medical consumers were daily users but daily use was also significant among recreational users.
StatsCannabis figures show Quebec has the cheapest cannabis in Canada while tokers in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut are paying a premium.
StatCannabis has even provided a comparative price list showing some distinctions between regional prices compared to the national average price per gram of $6.90 as of April 1:
• Quebec - $5.85
• B.C. - $6.89
• Atlantic Canada - $7.16
• Prairies - $7.33
• Ontario - $7.46
• Territories - $10.33
While the prices have shifted upward in the past 15 months, relative costs remain similar regionally.
According to early anecdotal numbers from 2018 before legalization between Jan. 25 and Feb. 21, B.C. residents paid the second-lowest price, coming in just a few cents above the then-national average of $6.82 per gram for dried cannabis.
Those early numbers produced the following prices:
• Quebec - $5.89
• B.C. - $6.93
• Atlantic provinces - $7.04
• Prairies - $7.25
• Ontario - $7.38
• Territories - $9.35
Prices may yet be affected by government supply. B.C. Minister of Solicitor General and Public Safety Mike Farnworth said recently that the province has been pushing for the addition of marijuana microproducers into the supply chain to ensure enough pot gets to market. Supply issues began to plague market not long after legalization.
“Supply is still very much an issue not just here but across the country,” Farnworth said.
Since legalization, the B.C. government has received 480 applications, each with a $7,500 fee paid. Of those, 122 applications were incomplete, 331 have been referred to local or Indigenous governments, nine applications have been approved with conditions and 18 licences have been issued. Licences are only issued after the retail location passes a regulatory compliance inspection.
The figures are current to April 15.
Reporter Jeremy Hainsworth can be contacted at email@example.com