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Legal B.C. cannabis sales jump 25.3% in February

Sales lag the Canada-wide 28.5 per cent year-over-year jump in February
An employee at the Choom cannabis store at 191 West 2nd Avenue, in Vancouver, looks into a display case, where there are props and edibles.

Legal B.C. cannabis sales increased 25.3 per cent to $46.3 million in February, compared to February 2021, according to Statistics Canada. 

Canada-wide, the increase was steeper: 28.5 per cent, to $336.4 million, according to the nation's number cruncher. 

While this may sound like a large year-over-year increase, sales growth for legal cannabis has slowed down. In February 2021, B.C.'s legal cannabis sales were 74.5 per cent more than the previous February. This makes for 118-per-cent growth in legal cannabis sales in B.C. in the past two years.

Some factors fuelling increased sales are more legal stores, fewer black-market stores and the perception that legal cannabis is better quality than that in the black market

Much of the Canadian sales growth came from Ontario, where legal cannabis sales were up more than 64.7 per cent, to nearly $142.6 million, according to Statistics Canada.

"We like B.C. more than we like other provinces, such as Ontario and Alberta," Dutch Love chief growth officer Harrison Stoker told BIV last week.

"When we started, business was great in Ontario. There were a few hundred locations open there. Now there's over 1,450 stores open, and the AGCO [Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario] continues to license new stores at a rapid pace."

Consolidation has started to take place in Ontario, with deep-pocketed large chains buying up stores. Price wars have also taken place in Ontario, making that market less attractive for businesses, he added.

B.C., in contrast, restricts cannabis store owners to a maximum of eight legal stores.

The B.C. government's last update, on April 4, showed that it had issued 419 retail licences to sell cannabis. 

Stoker said that Alberta has long been a saturated market for legal cannabis because getting legal licences from government was easier and speedier. 

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