Gap Between Legal and Illegal Cannabis Increases In Canada

Gap Between Legal and Illegal Cannabis Increases In Canada

In a strange turn of events, it has become more and more attractive — price-wise — to buy cannabis on the black market in Canada. According to new data released from Statistics Canada, the average price gap between regulated and illegal marijuana widened in the quarter that ended in September.

Numbers Don’t Lie

Get this: A gram of illicit cannabis is around 45% cheaper (on average), compared to legal flower. According to Statistics Canada, the average price of legal weed dropped from CA$10.65 per gram to CA$10.23 per gram in the second quarter. Compare that to the black market, where in the third quarter, CA$5.59 could score you a gram of cannabis. 

Illicit Competition

These numbers show that Canada’s black market has remained strong and competitive with the regulated market price points. Statistics Canada noted that the data showed the first decline in legal weed prices since Canada legalized cannabis in October 2018. According to the data, the average price of legal and illegal marijuana fell by 6.7% from second to third quarter — from CA$7.86 to CA$7.37 per gram.

Price Shoppers

People are price shopping weed in Canada, and there is data to prove it: In Statistics Canada’s July 10, 2019 news release, the percentage of respondents that admitted purchasing from black market sources rose to 59% in the second quarter of 2019, up from 55% in the first quarter. Those respondents who reported buying cannabis illegally due to the legal product being too expensive rose from 27% in the first quarter of 2019 to 34% in the second quarter. And in a slightly predictable twist due to the increase of government-licensed retailers, those that reported purchasing cannabis illegally because it was too difficult to access fell by almost half — from 18% (post-legalization) in the fourth quarter of 2018 to 8% in the second quarter of 2019.

Data tracker

Statistics Canada has been collecting cannabis prices from the websites of illegal online retailers and using that data to compare prices with information supplied by legal operations. Prior to legalization, the group updated the StatsCannabis crowdsourcing application to capture data on changes in consumer behavior as a result of cannabis legalization. Application updates included additional questions on cannabis sources (legal or illegal) and first-time use. This was in addition to original application questions on price, location, consumption, quality, and quantities purchased.

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About Brian Ellis

With 6 years' experience in business journalism, Brian is the person we turn to for anything related to the business of cannabis. His news coverage spans topics including marijuana business and finance. Brian's work features on, and