A new study from Statistics Canada has found the Canadian cannabis market was worth $6.2 billion in 2015 – and there were 4.9 million Canadians using it.
The Experimental Estimates of Cannabis Consumption in Canada study comes just months before cannabis is legalized across Canada.
There is currently no system for measuring cannabis use. However, the new Economic Insights study uses existing data collected for other purposes to make an estimate.
The study shows experimental volume estimates, along with corresponding estimates for the number of consumers in Canada, between 1960 and 2015.
Using this approach, there were an estimated 4.9 million cannabis consumers aged 15 and older in 2015, including both medical and non-medical use.
The study then estimates cannabis use by multiplying the number of users by assumptions for the number of days of consumption per person and the number of grams used per day.
According to this study, Canadian cannabis consumption is estimated at 697.5 tonnes in 2015.
Assuming a price range of $7.14 to $8.84 per gram, the estimated value of cannabis consumption in Canada in 2015 ranges from $5.0 billion to $6.2 billion.
According to Statistic Canada, that is roughly one-half to two-thirds of the size of the $9.2 billion beer market or around 70% to 90% of the size of the $7.0 billion wine market.
“In other words, as a first effort to create a more complete numerical history for the illegal cannabis market in Canada, these estimates appear reasonable,” reads the report.
The report notes that “although imperfect, they are the only long-term estimates currently available.”
Cannabis use estimated to have increased over time
In a release, Statistics Canada notes that study estimates the amount of cannabis being consumed tended to increase over time from 1960 to 2015.
This was due “in part to the increase in consumption among adults,” said the release.
“Indeed, the relative importance of the different age groups to the volume of cannabis consumption is estimated to have changed significantly over time.”
Statistics Canada found that in the 60s and 70s, the cannabis market was “youth driven,” but by 2015, fewer than 6% of users were estimated to be between 15 and 17 years old.
It’s worth noting however, that the report describes estimating the volume of cannabis consumption as “fraught with methodological difficulties.”
“[There is] missing information, differing quality instrumental variables and assumptions,” it reads. “Consequently, there is considerable uncertainty about the level of consumption.”