- Currently only a total of 10 cannabis dispensaries in the province
- Population of Ontario: 14+ million
It was a slow start.
In Ontario, Canada’s largest province, legalized retail recreational cannabis has lagged several other Canadian provinces since cannabis was legalized at the national level on October 17, 2018. In Toronto, Canada’s largest city, the first retail cannabis outlet didn’t open until April 1, 2019, almost six months after official legalization.
Even now, there are only two legal retail dispensaries in Toronto. A recent TSI Exclusive focused on how Toronto’s City Council was taking a heavy-handed approach to illegal dispensaries – despite the minimal access to legalized cannabis in the city.
However, cannabis retail is starting to get its legs in Ontario. As of the end of May, there are now 10 legal retail cannabis dispensaries in the province. Leafly provides more details on cannabis distribution in Ontario.
The population of Ontario is over 14 million, representing roughly 40% of Canada’s total population. With only 10 legal dispensaries (as of today), this leaves enormous untapped potential still on the table.
To provide some perspective, TSI recently focused on Calgary, Alberta – dubbed Canada’s “cannabis capital”. This is what we reported:
Calgary already has 29 cannabis stores. Ready for 25 more in the weeks ahead?
With the provincial government's decision to lift a moratorium on new stores, it's expected to clear five new stores to open in Alberta each week as pot supplies improve.
The city of Calgary has a population of approximately 1.5 million. Once the additional 25 cannabis stores come online, that is more than 1 dispensary per 30,000 people.
Calgary: 1 dispensary per 30,000 people
Ontario: 1 dispensary per 1.4 million people
No one is saying there are too many dispensaries in Calgary. Indeed, the city of Calgary has already approved 197 permits for cannabis stores. Those applications are now being considered by Alberta’s Gaming Liquor and Cannabis Commission.
For cannabis investors who are already salivating over the future potential of Ontario retail cannabis, there are also demographics.
The vast majority of this population of 14+ million is concentrated in a relatively small portion of Southern Ontario. This includes (primarily) the Greater Toronto Area and the Niagara Peninsula.
This concentration of population matches almost any of the U.S.’s major metropolitan regions.
Canada is now preparing for Phase 2 of national legalization: new markets for value-added cannabis concentrates, edibles, and other cannabis-infused products. Higher margins. Greater revenue/profit potential.
The state-by-state movement to legalize cannabis in the United States is an important dynamic for cannabis investors. But don’t forget about Canada.
Much greater regulatory certainty. Much greater access to capital (at present). Large, untapped markets – like Ontario – to offer blue-sky potential for investors.