CCSI image 1 2022-03-11

*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$5.13 per gram this week, up 1.0% from last week’s C$5.13 per gram. This week’s price equates to US$1,836 per pound at the current exchange rate.

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As we first reported in January, Alberta’s cannabis industry went through a major transformation this past week due to the scheduled implementation on March 8, 2022 of Bill-80, the Red Tape Reduction Implementation Act, 2021 (No. 2). The measure, which received royal assent on December 8, 2021, gives currently licensed private retailers in Alberta the ability to establish online stores to sell their products direct-to-consumer.

Up until now, legal cannabis was available online only through the Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis (AGLC) e-commerce platform. AGLC will remain responsible for buying products from federally licensed producers and distributing them to licensed private retailers. We believe the new sales landscape will be very beneficial for consumers and the entire cannabis industry.

The bill gives the provincial government three months to close its online store, while allowing licensed retailers to set up their e-commerce platforms.  Retailers that have received an endorsement to their licenses from the AGLC for online sales can now initiate an online presence. While we do not  know how many retailers have already set up their online stores, or are in the process of doing so, the tools and technology should be readily available.

Alberta has already been a very competitive cannabis marketplace with the highest number of stores per capita in the country. This new change should make the province’s market even more competitive.

Alberta has consistently had a strong store count relative to other provinces, and this has resulted in strong per capita sales figures. Our latest count shows that Alberta had 752 stores open for business as of the end of February 2022. That figure was up by 167 stores, or a jump of 29%, compared to February 2021. 

Licensed private retailers should be able to cut costs significantly with a shift to online sales. Once a customer is acquired through a storefront, moving the customer to the retailer’s online platform will allow the fulfillment of purchases from a centralized location, which should result in lower retail price points. This should be a net benefit to both retailers and customers.

From the cultivator’s perspective, the lower retail price point will further push consumers away from the illicit markets. Alberta already has one of the smallest illicit cannabis markets, but this change should drive even more volume through legal channels.