Since March 2020 – the first month of the coronavirus pandemic – cannabis sales in Canada rose 25% and revenues were $811 million higher than predicted, according to research published in JAMA outlined by CTV News. The sales figures were provided by Statistics Canada and include 16 months from March 2020 through June 2021.
The study, conducted by the Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research (PBCAR) of McMaster University, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, and the Homewood Research Institute, also found that since March 2020, monthly alcohol sales rose by an average of 5.5% — or $1.86 billion — over expected sales.
James MacKillop, director of the PBCAR and co-author of the study, said in a statement that the “results offer one of the first national perspectives on changes in alcohol and cannabis use during the pandemic.”
“These sales data give us an opportunity to quantify the pandemic’s impacts on two of the most commonly used substances for the country as a whole [and] give us clues into potential changes in behavioral patterns and can inform planning to address mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.” — MacKillop, in a statement, via CTV News
The researchers found that pre-pandemic cannabis sales in Canada rose from $55.4 million in November 2018 to $150.75 million in February 2020 and suggest that Canadians spent $23.59 million stockpiling cannabis as the coronavirus began to take hold throughout the world.
Jean Costello, director of evaluation at the Homewood Research Institute and a co-author of the research, said that “it’s unclear whether similar patterns exist outside of Canada, but the findings indicate the value of sales data as a strategy to characterize the impacts of COVID-19 on substance use.”
“Although the changing landscape following cannabis legalization is a critical consideration,” she said in a statement, “the availability of cannabis sales data at all is a boon for researchers evaluating the pandemic’s impacts.”
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