Cannabis sales in Ontario double since opening private stores

Revenue in the first quarter of 2019 shows a dramatic spike in Ontario

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New statistics from Health Canada show legal cannabis sales in Ontario have more than doubled since the province began licensing new stores.

In April, sales totalled $19.6 million, up from $7.6 million in the previous month and $7.5 million in February.

Shortly before the country federally legalized cannabis in late 2018, the provinces were each tasked with individualizing their respective retail models. Where some, like British Columbia, opted for a hybrid model (both public and private stores), Ontario initially settled on a government monopoly—only providing cannabis through the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS). After some stakeholder pushback, however, the provincial government created 25 openings for private investor retail licenses to be distributed via a lottery system.

As of April, approximately 10 stores have opened their doors in Ontario. Previously, consumers were left to purchase their pot from unregulated sources or online.

Other provinces have also opted for a licence cap similar to Ontario. Alberta set their limit at 200 privately owned stores. The B.C. government has said it will not set a cap and there are currently 35 licensed private retail locations.

In B.C., sales haven’t been as dramatically impacted by the provision of legal retail hubs. In April, provincial sales only hit $2.5 million.