Access to legal cannabis market in Canada over the four years following non-medical cannabis legalisation


An increasing number of countries are inthe process of legalising non-medical cannabis. We described how the legal market has changed over the first 4 years following legalisation in Canada.


We collected longitudinal data on operating status and location of all legal cannabis stores in Canada for the first 4 years following legalisation. We examined per capita stores and sales, store closures, and the drive time between stores and each neighbourhood in Canada. We compared measures between public and private retail systems.


Four years after legalisation, there were 3305 cannabis stores open in Canada (10.6 stores per 100,000 individuals aged 15+ years). Canadians spent $11.85CAD a month on cannabis per individual aged 15+ years, and 59% of neighbourhoods were within a 5-minute drive of a cannabis store. Over 4 years, per capita stores and per capita sales increased each year by an average of 122.3% and 91.7%, respectively, with larger increases in private versus public systems (4.01 times greater for per capita stores and 2.46 times greater for per capita sales). The annual increase in per capita stores and sales during the first 3 years was 6.0 and 15.5 times greater, respectively, than the increase in the fourth year following legalisation. Over 4 years, 7% of retail store locations permanently closed.

Discussion and conclusion:

The legal cannabis market in Canada expanded enormously over the first 4 years following legalisation, with considerable variation in access between jurisdictions. The rapid retail expansion has implications for evaluation of health impacts of non-medical legalisation.


cannabis; commercialisation; non-medical cannabis legalisation; recreational cannabis legalisation; retail access.

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