With a wide variety of different regulations and paths towards retail store openings to be found between provinces, legalized marijuana sales have been off to a rocky start in much of Canada.
Shortages have led to low customer satisfaction as demand far outpaces supply, prompting a flurry of official statements from companies on how they plan to address the chronic problem, whether they’re building new greenhouses or inking supply deals with various provinces.
A recent string of Ipsos polls revealed the breadth of that deep dissatisfaction among customers, particularly in Ontario where buyers have to go through the province’s online-only ordering system to purchase marijuana legally.
Chief Executive Officer Terry Booth from Aurora Cannabis (NYSE: ACB) put it rather candidly by stating both British Columbia and Ontario “shit the bed” with legalization during a panel at the MJ Biz Con 2018.
A study from the federal government reiterated those concerns, but also showed areas where the industry can expect to grow.
Since the prospect of widespread marijuana legalization became more likely in 2017, the federal government began conducting surveys on the subject of cannabis usage.
The purpose of the annual cannabis survey is to ascertain who is using cannabis, how it is consumed, what purpose it is consumed for (recreational vs. medical), and whether citizens are driving under the influence.
The results of the 2018 nationwide survey have now been released, which polled 12,958 respondents spread evenly across every age bracket, gender, and province.
A combined total of 48% of marijuana users polled stated they acquired their cannabis from a friend, acquaintance, or dealer, rather than a dispensary or legal online source. That number is astoundingly high in the wake of legalization.
There are two silver linings for the burgeoning legal industry to take away from the report, however.
55% of respondents acquire their marijuana from a single source – a statistic that can give hope to retail outlets looking to hook repeat customers. The numbers make it clear that if they can hit the right price while offering a quality product, most consumers will stick with them rather than seeking out an alternative.
The study revealed that the types of cannabis products being consumed are also seeing a shift in the marketplace, which may be a boon for retail stores over black market hookups.
Smoking as the primary method of consuming cannabis actually decreased 94% to 89% from the 2017 survey, while vaping and edible consumption both increased as the primary method of consuming.
Those are two aspects of the industry poised to grow as Canadian companies get onboard with edible production while both startups and major corporations around the world also rush to jump on the THC or CBD infused drink market.