With much of the world retreating into an indefinite period of self-isolation, some bars and restaurants are bracing for a massive financial hit. But the cannabis industry keeps humming—at least in Canada, where marijuana sales have seen a spike during the crisis surrounding COVID-19.
The Canadian Press reports that the Ontario Cannabis Store “received almost 3,000 orders on Saturday, an 80-per-cent increase over an average Saturday.”
The store’s spokesperson, Daffyd Roderick, told the outlet that the “last three days have brought an increase in the volume in sales on OCS.ca and a high demand for same-day and next-day delivery.”
Likewise, the Societe quebecoise du cannabis, another marijuana company, told the Canadian Press that its sales have also gone up in recent days.
Despite a state of emergency being called in Ontario, the Cannabis Store in the province has remained open, a decision that has not been without controversy. The Liquor Control Board of Ontario has also remained open, telling customers that it has “elevated our cleaning and sanitation protocols in our stores and warehouses and have increased prevention awareness amongst our staff.”
Canada legalized recreational marijuana use in the fall of 2018, joining Uruguay as the only other country to permit recreational marijuana nationwide; the reform also made Canada the first industrial country in the world to embrace legalization.
The policy change was pushed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said in 2018 that it has “been too easy for our kids to get marijuana – and for criminals to reap the profits.” When the law officially took effect last October, Canadians celebrated by sparking up joints and forming long lines outside the newly opened pot shops.
But a year after legalization, Canada’s regulated weed market was struggling to keep pace with the illicit one, with sales of legal marijuana totaling $1 billion in the first 12 months, compared with $5 and $7 billion in revenue generated within the unregulated market.
The resilience of the illicit marijuana market isn’t unique to Canada. In California, where recreational pot was made legal in 2016, the unregulated market also remains robust.