Displacing Canada cannabis black market will take years: Trudeau
Montreal (AFP) –
Canada's cannabis market -- beset by complaints of high retail prices and huge investor losses -- will take "several more years" to get its footing, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday on the anniversary of pot's legalization.
"We have made progress when it comes to making cannabis less accessible to young people and eliminating some of the profits that go to the black market, but we also know it will take several years before that is completely successful," Trudeau told reporters while campaigning for re-election ahead of the October 21 ballot.
Also Thursday, cannabis-infused edibles became legal, but are not expected to hit store shelves until December.
Under federal regulations, cannabis-infused food or drink will not be permitted to contain more than 10 milligrams of THC -- the principal psychoactive compound in cannabis. For extracts and topicals the maximum will be 1,000 mg per package.
One of the government's stated goals for the legal cannabis market was to undercut and eventually displace illicit sales.
But new government data shows only 29 percent of Canadians are buying pot from licensed retailers who, despite a small first-time price drop in the third quarter, charge an average of Can$10.23 per gram, or double the black market rate for cannabis.
Cannabis stocks, meanwhile, have lost half their value since peaking last year over missed revenue expectations blamed on a shortage of retail outlets and growing pains of a new industry.
Many companies are hoping that higher-margin cannabis-infused foods and drinks will turn around their earnings slump.
One year on, the proportion of Canadians who use cannabis has remained unchanged at about 4.9 million out of a total population of 37.6 million, or about 13 percent, according to Statistics Canada.
Men and youth continue to be the biggest consumers of pot.
Canada became only the second nation to legalize recreational cannabis, after Uruguay, on October 17, 2018.
© 2019 AFP