British Columbia has been famous for its bud since long before legalization, but another province is beating it in terms of cannabis sales and retailers.
Since October 17—the day pot was made legal nation-wide—cannabis sales have been higher in Alberta than in any other Canadian province.
What Makes Alberta Different?
One notable difference between Alberta and its western neighbor is the age at which people can begin buying weed. Like most provinces, BC made 19 the legal age for purchasing and consuming cannabis, the same as the age for alcohol. Alberta's legal drinking age, however, is lower by one year, so Albertans can experiment with both alcohol and cannabis starting at 18—just in time to get into Pink Floyd.
More important than age, Alberta has made an earnest attempt to give as many of its citizens as possible access to legal cannabis. While both BC and Alberta passed legislation allowing weed to be purchased from privately-licensed retailers, only Alberta made good on that promise by legalization day. Case in point: on October 17, Alberta had 15 cannabis stores open and ready for business.
BC only had one—and it was in Kamloops, a city that is about as close to Metro Vancouver as it is to the Albertan border.
In the months since legalization, the gap between Alberta and BC has only grown wider and wider. While BC has since opened an additional 16 retail shops, Alberta currently boasts an incredible 176 dispensaries licensed by the AGLC, the province's regulatory body for Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis. In fact, no other province in the country can come close to this number, as Newfoundland, the province with the next highest number of licensed retail stores, only has 25.
Still, Alberta could have had even more cannabis shops if the AGLC hadn't put a six-month moratorium on applications over concerns that the remarkably high number of cannabis sales would lead to a provincial shortage of weed. One report from Marijuana Business Daily expected Alberta to have as many as 250 legal retailers by the end of the first year.
How Well is Alberta Doing, Exactly?
Alberta's impressively high number of retailers is, of course, the leading factor in why Albertans are buying more marijuana than citizens of any other province. A report from Arcview Market Research found that, by the end of 2018, Alberta alone was responsible for 38 per cent of legal cannabis sales in Canada. In addition, Stats Canada reports that month after month more cannabis is sold in Alberta than anywhere else in the country.
This means that the provincial government is raking in profits. According to Global News, Alberta sold about $77 million worth of cannabis in the first six months, with approximately $30 million of that going directly to the province. That's $4 million higher than the government expected to make.
"The Alberta Advantage" is Helping Businesses
But the government of Alberta isn't the only one benefiting. Companies currently taking advantage of enormous cannabis sales from Alberta include Canopy Growth (TSX:WEED) (NYSE:CGC), CannTrust Holdings (TSX:TRST) (NYSE:CTST), Zenabis Global (TSX:ZENA) (OTCPK:ZBISF), OrganiGram Holdings (TSXV:OGI) (NASDAQ:OGI), the Supreme Cannabis Company (TSX:FIRE) (OTCQX:SPRWF), MedReleaf, and, of course, Alberta's own Aurora Cannabis Inc. (TSX:ACB) (NYSE:ACB).
In terms of market capitalization, Aurora is the world's second largest cannabis company, but its production capacity of 500,000 kgs per year is second to none. Recently, Aurora announced plans to expand into the cannabis consumer market by offering vapes, concentrates, and edibles, and will also launch a national campaign to make sure Canadians know how to use these new products safely.
Another Alberta-born cannabis company making good at home and elsewhere is Fire & Flower Holdings Corp. (TSXV:FAF) (OTCPK:FFLWF), which has been expanding at an impressive rate. Within a month of legalization, the company had opened eight shops, and just last month Fire & Flower hit an important milestone by cutting the ribbon on its 21st licensed cannabis retail store in—where else—Alberta. While the company is best represented in its home province, it also has stores in Saskatchewan and Ontario and is making plans to expand into other provinces that permit privately-licensed retailers.
What do you think? Will Alberta continue to be the number one province to watch cannabis retailers thrive? Let us know your thoughts below.
Featured image: Pixabay