The province of British Columbia has been one of Canada’s laggards when it comes to opening up the legal cannabis industry. It was slow off the mark in opening cannabis stores.
While the province now has 79 retail cannabis stores, it has fallen well behind neighboring Alberta in terms of cannabis revenues. From October 2018 through July 2019, Alberta generated CAD$144.9 million in cannabis revenues (population 4.3 million), according to Statistics Canada.
B.C., with a population of 5 million people, has generated only CAD$25 million in cannabis revenues. This comes despite the fact that historically British Columbia has had one of Canada’s most robust black markets for cannabis.
For these reasons, it will be welcome news to cannabis consumers, companies and investors that the province is in the process of opening another 77 retail cannabis stores, according to the provincial government’s website.
Of equal importance, 7 of these new stores will be located in Vancouver, which has been under-served with cannabis stores to date. Compounding this, several municipal governments in the Greater Vancouver Area still refuse to provide development permits for retail cannabis.
The cumulative effect of this lethargy and intransigence is that B.C. has done a very good job to date in preserving the province’s cannabis market for the black market.
As Canada’s cannabis industry moves into Year 2 of full legalization, it appears that the province of British Columbia is turning over a new leaf.