Cannabis retailers expect to sell plenty of the green stuff on the first Canada Day long weekend since legalization.
Jim Wells / Postmedia
The Canada Day long weekend is no longer mostly the preserve of the liquor industry, say some of the country’s cannabis retailers.More of the pie for that flag-waving party is being carved out by legal pot sellers as the first post-legalization national birthday approaches, says an online cannabis information resource.A survey commissioned by Leafly Canada suggests 25 per cent of Alberta adults plan to embark on a cannabis buzz this long weekend, among the highest in the country.“That’s one in four compared to one in five (nationally),” said Jo Vos, managing director of Leafly Canada, which commissioned the poll of 1,513 people conducted last week by Maru/Blue.That’s due largely to the proliferation of pot shops in Alberta that now number up to 136, leading the nation by a wide margin, she said.“Alberta and Atlantic Canada are leading the country in plans to consume this weekend,” said Vos.Among millennials surveyed — those aged 22 to 37 — a whopping 33 per cent said they plan to toke up or consume edibles on Canada’s 152nd anniversary weekend.Related
The latest Statistics Canada figures on cannabis consumption suggest 15 per cent of Canadians reported using pot in the past three months, with 19 per cent planning to consume it over the next three months.“That was a similar percentage to what was reported before legalization,” states StatsCan.Those numbers rise to 33 per cent among those aged 18 to 24.Cannabis information clearing house Leafly is confident legalization is pushing cannabis use into the mainstream when weekends approach, said Vos.“We believe consumption patterns will continue to shift and there’s a broader awareness of cannabis as an option,” she said, adding those follow the lines of booze consumption.“We know there are behaviour patterns very similar to alcohol in the lead-up to weekends.”There are even “very compelling” indications that cannabis could displace some alcohol use, added Vos.It was illegal but now there’s a freedom,Mark GoligerSome statistics on alcohol sales in Canada show they haven’t decreased since pot legalization, but some predict that might happen when cannabis-infused beverages come on the market at year’s end.Vos acknowledged marketing the newly legalized product is a much tougher task than that facing the alcohol industry, whose wares can be promoted openly on a host of platforms, including newspaper ads and street signage.Legalization has grown Canadian cannabis demand “but not exponentially,” said Mark Goliger, CEO of National Access Cannabis (NAC), which operates 15 stores in Alberta.But he said the first summer long weekend following prohibition’s end will likely see a spike in people consuming pot, and those who do should feel no stigma.“It was illegal but now there’s a freedom,” said Goliger.“Long weekends are a time for people to relax and enjoy more of everything, whether it’s food, friends, drinks, cannabis and, hopefully, sunshine.”NAC recently announced revenues of $40 million since legalization, through its NewLeaf Cannabis stores in Alberta and other outlets in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.“We’d love to have been further ahead but with the (now-ended) moratorium on new stores in Alberta, supply problems, with Ontario going to a lottery system for new stores and B.C. not going as fast as we’d like, it’s impacted things,” he said.BKaufmann@postmedia.comTwitter: @BillKaufmannjrn