OTTAWA — A U.S. consultant hired by Ottawa to assess Canada’s eventual recreational pot market says jurisdictions that regulate cannabis should expect “unbelievably high” sales growth in the first few years as criminals are driven out of business.
Adam Orens, a founding partner of the Marijuana Policy Group, said he is not yet authorized to discuss his findings on the future Canadian pot market because his organization is under contract with Health Canada.
However, a look at the group’s estimates for Colorado’s regulated cannabis industry suggests Canada can expect its own sector to generate billions of dollars per year in direct and indirect economic activity.
Colorado’s marijuana industry churned out nearly US$2.4 billion in economic activity in 2015, created 18,000 full-time jobs and pumped US$121 million in tax revenues into state coffers, Orens’ group reported in a study released last fall.
A key takeaway from the Colorado research is that newly legalized pot industries should be ready for a sales jolt over the first few years as black-market transactions shift to the regulated market, Orens said.
His Denver-based firm found that Colorado’s regulated marijuana sales skyrocketed 42.4 per cent between 2014 — the first year recreational pot sales were permitted in the state — and 2015, when they totalled US$996 million.
“We’ve had unbelievably high year-over-year growth rates in sales,” Orens said in an interview, adding the group expects similar sales booms in other pot-regulating places such as Washington state, California and Oregon.
“This is a conversion of an existing, informal market into a formal, regulated market and you’re going to see several years of very fast growth.”
After the initial surge, however, he noted the Colorado study predicted considerably slower sales growth under the expectation that the black market will gradually be swallowed up. The report projected sales growth of 13.1 per cent in the state in 2020.
While every jurisdiction is different, Canada’s population is seven times larger than Colorado’s.
The Trudeau government, which recently introduced legislation to legalize recreational pot, has begun assessing the economic impacts of a regulated pot industry in Canada as well as taxation options.
To date, the feds have provided few details in public on how the new industry could