Cannabis companies in British Columbia raised $4 billion in 2018 as they sought to expand following the legalization of recreational marijuana.

A new report from the British Columbia Securities Commission shows a 280% year-on-year rise in the amount of capital cannabis firms in the province raised during 2018. B.C. had 124 cannabis companies raising money in 2018, compared to 69 the year before.

It made cannabis the second most active industry for fundraising in the province after mining, which dropped 27% to $4.3 billion. That leaves marijuana ahead of real estate, technology, communication and entertainment. In total, B.C. companies raised $19.1 billion in 2018, 27% more than the year before.

The commission reported that there are now more than 200 active, listed cannabis companies in B.C. Curaleaf Holdings Inc., Acreage Holdings, Inc. and Harvest Health & Recreation Inc. completed the three largest financings in 2018, raising $520 million, $416 million and $288 million respectively in 2018.

British Columbia was also the fastest growing province for cannabis sales during May 2019, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada. Its industry enjoyed 37% growth, leaving it ahead of Quebec as the most improved.

Across Canada, sales increased from $60 million in March to $74 million in May and then $85 million in April. Painful supply shortages are ending, moratoriums on new retail licenses are being lifted and the industry is gathering a head of steam.

Edibles and other concentrates are due to hit shelves before Christmas, which should provide another boost to the nascent adult-use cannabis retail trade.

B.C. still lags way behind Ontario, Alberta and Quebec in terms of value sales, but it has at least overtaken the likes of New Brunswick and Newfoundland & Labrador now.

Many premium growers are located in the Kelowna area of B.C., rubbing shoulders with famous vineyards. The city, which has a population of 194,882, now has its first legal cannabis store.

Hobo Recreational Cannabis Store opened its doors for the first time yesterday. Hospitality company Donnelly Group owns the Hobo brand and this is its fourth site, following two openings in Vancouver and one in Ottawa, but now it feels like it is “bringing Kelowna cannabis home”. It will certainly not struggle to source quality bud.

“The Okanagan’s ability to produce high-quality cannabis is second to none – they’re one of the reasons people associate BC Bud with quality cannabis in the first place,” said Harrison Stoker, vice president of brand and culture at Donnelly Group.