Canadians spent $5.7 billion on marijuana in 2017

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A new Statistics Canada study shows that around five million Canadians used marijuana last year.

The data released on Thursday in a report called Cannabis Economic Account 1961 to 2017, estimates that consumers of the drug spent an average of $1,200 each, for a total of $5.7 billion spent on the drug. Statistics Canada estimates that 90 per cent of consumption was illegal and for non-medical purposes.

The report highlighted that most of the cannabis consumed in Canada is domestically produced. Canadians bought $300 million in cannabis from outside of the country, while Canadian sales outside of the country were estimated at $1.2 billion.

Atlas Growers has partnered with St. Albert resident Jim Hole. Atlas is one of the many Canadian companies wanting to break into the burgeoning marijuana market.

Jeffrey Gossain, vice president of operations at Atlas Growers, said that while many other companies are talking about entering into the market, Atlas is well on its way to having a building constructed.

Atlas has begun construction on the facility in Lac St. Anne County.

“We expect to have occupancy in the facility in May. At that time we can start seeding the cannabis and hoping to harvest sometime in August,” Gossain said.

Gossain said that initially the facility will focus on the smaller market of medical marijuana but will eventually expand into the recreational market. The facility will have the capacity to produce over five tonnes of cannabis per year, worth roughly $40 million dollars.

“I think our focus initially is going to be medical just because we are building a state of the art facility … so our product is going to be extremely high quality and medical grade,” Gossain said.

Atlas is not the only company in the region attempting to gain entry into the marijuana market. St. Albert duo Reid Smith and Brandon McBride have spoken to Sturgeon County council about their plans to build a 10,000 square-foot medical cannabis production and distribution centre south of Morinville.

The Statistics Canada study revealed that the illegal cannabis industry is big and is currently on par with the beer industry and larger than the tobacco industry.

Along with releasing the study on Thursday, Statistics Canada also launched a Cannabis Statistics Hub where they will be crowd-sourcing information related to marijuana prices, consumption and production.

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Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2016. She writes about municipal, provincial and federal politics; court and crime; general news and features.