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Which Canadian Province Consumes the Most Cannabis?

July 4, 2019
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Jesse Milns/Leafly
Prior to legalization, British Columbians consumed the most cannabis by population by a significant margin. According to this year’s World Drug Report by the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime, an average of 14.8% of Canadians 15 and older told Statistics Canada in 2017 they had consumed cannabis in the past year—while 23.4% of British Columbia residents reported doing so.

In Quebec, only 11% of residents admitted to having consumed cannabis in the last year, while in Nova Scotia—second to BC in consumption—18.8% of residents reported cannabis use. (Ontario was in the middle, with 14% reporting past-year cannabis use.)

The report also noted Canadian cannabis use increased by 40% between 2013 and 2017.

These are pre-legalization numbers, and since legalization, the challenge has become measuring both legal and underground cannabis consumption.

Alberta has taken the lead as Canada’s primary consumer of legal cannabis, punching above its weight by buying 38% of Canadian recreational cannabis despite having only 11.6% of the country’s population.


From 5 per week to 10: Alberta doubles rate of new cannabis licenses

With its long-established underground cannabis infrastructure, British Columbia scores lower on the legal-consumption scale—but it remains unclear how much people are spending on unlicensed cannabis.

As Ontario (where 38.6% of Canadians live) announces plans to bring the number of adult-use cannabis retailers in that province from 25 up to 75, Alberta offers far and away the largest variety of recreational cannabis retailers, expecting more than 200 cannabis stores to open by fall (as of this week, there are 156).

Alberta’s retail boom has meant increased hiring—and job seekers in the economically challenged provinces have taken notice, flooding cannabis companies with resumés.


Natural Ingredients: How BC’s Tantalus Labs Produces Premium Cannabis

“My worry is it’s going to get really competitive out there with all the licenses that are going to come out,” one retail HR person told the Globe and Mail. “People may start offering signing bonuses.”

In Penticton BC, 17 openings at a BC Liquor Distribution Branch cannabis store drew a variety of aspiring applicants to a BCLDB Cannabis job fair. In southwestern Ontario, meanwhile, producers are enjoying a boom-time surge of workers.

Jesse B. Staniforth's Bio Image

Jesse B. Staniforth

Jesse B. Staniforth is the editor of the free cannabis-industry
newsletter WeedWeek Canada. He also reports on Indigenous issues,
cybersecurity, and food safety.

View Jesse B. Staniforth's articles