Canada Cannabis Spot Index (CCSI) 

Published January 24, 2020

*The provincial excise taxes vary. Cannabis Benchmarks estimates the population weighted average excise tax for Canada.

**CCSI is inclusive of the estimated Federal & Provincial cannabis excise taxes..

The CCSI was assessed at C$6.61 per gram this week, up 2.3% from last week’s C$6.46 per gram. This week’s price equates to US$2,292 per pound at the current exchange rate.

This week we examine the potential cannabis market landscape in Alberta through the end of 2020. A Statistics Canada survey estimates 662,000 cannabis users in Alberta, or roughly 18.8% of the province’s adult population. In many ways, Alberta has been seen as the most liberal and forward-looking province for making legal cannabis available to users. The Alberta government’s framework to license and regulate cannabis retailers has been simple and quick, similar to the way it operates liquor stores.

Our latest cannabis store count puts Alberta well ahead of the rest of the country with 55% of Canada’s cannabis retailers located in the province. Accessibility has been one of the biggest impediments to the growth of legal cannabis sales in Canada, but Alberta’s unique approach has been effective in driving sales into the legal market. We have reported in the past that roughly 80% of cannabis across Canada is still being purchased in the illicit market, but Alberta looks to be doing better than the other provinces on that front. Kelley Holmes, the manager of cannabis account services for the Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis Commission (AGLC), recently stated that “Colorado, during its first year of legalization … had around 15% of the market move to the legal market;” but, in Alberta, Holmes estimates the proportion is between 25% and 30%.

Source: Cannabis Benchmarks

As we have established in past reports, there is a very strong relationship between retail sales levels and the number of cannabis stores in a province. Accordingly, Alberta has one of the highest per capita sales levels. We project the number of stores will continue to grow and estimate that by December 2020 there will be 668 stores open across Alberta, with 292 more stores opening over the course of the year, for a growth rate of 78%.

Increased sales will come with growth in the number of stores. Cannabis Benchmarks projections for retail cannabis sales in Alberta and the number of licensed storefronts projected to open each month through the end of 2020 are illustrated in the charts below.

Source: Cannabis Benchmarks

As of the last retail report from the Government of Canada, Alberta’s monthly sales for September and October averaged C$27M. We are now forecasting legal retail cannabis sales in Alberta to average C$37M per month in 2020, with the addition of the new retail locations and Cannabis 2.0 products, generating C$40.5M in sales by December 2020. 

In total, we forecast C$441M of sales in Alberta in 2020, with Cannabis 2.0 products expected to be C$61M, or 14%.  

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