Canada Cannabis Spot Index (CCSI) 

Published March 27, 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$6.33 per gram this week, down 0.6% from last week’s C$6.37 per gram. This week’s price equates to US$2,010 per pound at the current exchange rate.

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Illegal to Essential

As the coronavirus crisis deepens in Canada, the regulatory and business landscape continues to change rapidly. Each province has made countless moves to contain COVID-19. At this point, most provinces have declared a “state of emergency” or a “public health emergency.” This led to a massive spike in medical and recreational cannabis sales over the past week as consumers stocked up on products ahead of any potential availability issues or retail store closures. 

The cannabis industry has already faced many challenges this year and closures to any part of the supply and distribution chain would be difficult to overcome. Canadian cultivators and retailers have already been struggling ahead of the pandemic, as they compete directly with lower priced and more accessible illicit markets. The same goes for ancillary businesses – including processing, packaging, distribution, delivery, and maintenance – that rely on continuous business operation to keep afloat.

In today’s report, we look at how each province is dealing with cannabis businesses and whether the provinces have qualified cannabis operations as essential services that will be allowed to operate as the country begins to mandate business closures, lay-offs, mandatory quarantine, and work from home programs. 

The Alberta Government has declared a public health emergency but has not recommended that any business or workplace close. At this point the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC) is allowing liquor and cannabis retail stores to remain open, but the province is presently reviewing potential additional measures, including further restrictions on businesses. As of now, Alberta has not produced a list of essential businesses.

British Columbia (BC)

BC has ordered a mandatory closure of all non-essential businesses, such as dine-in restaurants and personal services. The Public Safety Minister encouraged businesses that are listed as essential to follow the advice of the provincial health officer. Cannabis retailers and producers have been deemed essential under the food and agriculture service providers listing.


The Ontario Government ordered the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces, effective March 25. This closure will be in effect for 14 days and may be extended. Cannabis retailers and producers will remain open, as they are listed as essential under the retail and wholesaling category.

The Quebec Government has announced the closure of all non-essential businesses until April 13. This measure went into effect as of March 25. Quebec has listed cannabis retailers as an essential business. The provincial-run SQDC outlets will remain open, but will limit the number of customers permitted at any given time and will only process non-cash payments.


The Saskatchewan Government released a comprehensive list of critical public services and business services that will be allowed to continue operations on March 26. Cannabis retailers are amongst the critical businesses allowed to remain open.


The Manitoba Government is developing a list of essential businesses. At the moment, cannabis stores remain open, but it is still uncertain if they will be deemed an essential service.

Nova Scotia

The Nova Scotia Government declared a state of emergency on March 19, ordering any non-essential services to close. The provincial-run Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation has been allowed to remain open.

New Brunswick
The New Brunswick Government declared a state of emergency on March 19, ordering any non-essential services to close. Cannabis retailers are recognized as essential businesses and will remain open. 

Prince Edward Island (PEI)
The PEI government has taken the strongest actions of all provinces by closing all provincial-owned liquor and cannabis stores.

Newfoundland and Labrador
The Newfoundland and Labrador Government has declared a public health emergency. Cannabis retailers were not recognized as an essential service. All stores were closed on March 26.

Online sales from the provincial-run stores will still be allowed. The only change will be that Canada Post will discontinue home delivery as it will not be accepting signatures at one’s door, but customers may pick up their packages from a local post office.

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