B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth and Attorney General David Eby attend opening of the first government-run B.C. Cannabis Store, Kamloops, Oct. 19, 2018. (B.C. government)

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth and Attorney General David Eby attend opening of the first government-run B.C. Cannabis Store, Kamloops, Oct. 19, 2018. (B.C. government)

No surge in pandemic pot sales, latest B.C. sales figures show

Steady growth in legal cannabis sales through early 2020

The COVID-19 sales surge that depleted store shelves of toilet paper, disinfectants, baking products and booze has not carried over into legal marijuana, according to the latest sales figures from the B.C. government.

Sales from licensed private and public cannabis retail stores continued the steady rise of early 2020 through March and April, with a slight decline in dollar value in May, sales figures from the Ministry of Public Safety show. More than three million grams of cannabis or equivalent in concentrates were sold in May through the province’s monopoly wholesaler.

By dollar value, B.C. sales declined from $19,715,535 in April to $19,435,1818 in May, suggesting more lower-value purchases for the month. Overall, sales by weight and value have increased from $17.6 million in January, with a dip in February before widespread shutdown of business and employment due to pandemic public health measures.

By contrast, the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch reported a jump of more than 21 per cent in alcohol sales for March and April, even as bars, pubs and many restaurants shut down.

A poll released June 9 by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction found that while 20 per cent of people forced to stay home were drinking every day, 80 per cent of respondents said their consumption was about the same or less during the pandemic. Participants in the Nanos survey cited stress and boredom for increased drinking.

Actual cannabis use has to include the black market, which carries on as the majority supplier of B.C. recreational cannabis after many years of providing an estimated half of Canada’s production. The province’s figures for cannabis are only for the legal market, where B.C. lags far behind Alberta, Ontario and Quebec as of April, the latest sales figures available from Statistics Canada show.

RELATED: B.C. launches cannabis ‘navigator’ for small producers

RELATED: Kootenay cannabis growers get $676,000 grant

The B.C. government has met with cannabis industry groups, including the Nelson-based Craft Cannabis Association of B.C. the B.C. Craft Farmers Cooperative, which has released its proposal to increase B.C.’s legal production. The province maintains a monopoly on wholesale and online sales, through government-owned B.C. Cannabis Stores.

“Many of the issues raised in the [Craft Farmers] proposal align with items the Province is actively considering – for example farm to gate sales and online sales – which could have a significant impact on the legal cannabis industry’s overall competitiveness while also supporting the transition of legacy producers,” said a statement released to Black Press Media by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth’s office June 19. “The proposal also identifies concerns shared by the Province about federally authorized personal medical cannabis production and the amount of medical cannabis being diverted to the illicit market. This is something we have raised with Health Canada and will continue to voice our concerns about.”

Federal growing licences were given to commercial medical growers, and people growing small amounts to supply registered patients prescribed cannabis for their illness during the years when only medical use was legal.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislaturecannabisCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kennedy Nikel, applied marine biologist at Cascadia Seaweed, here seen in late September, shows off bull kelp (in her left hand) and rock weed. The company is spear-heading an annual seaweed festival scheduled for May 13-21, 2021, with Sidney council have signed off in principle. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Cascadia hopes to see Sidney host seaweed festival in May 2021

Council supports the idea in principle following a presentation by Cascadia Seaweed

Trevor Davis, base manager of the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation in Sidney, stands in front of the Hecate Sentinal, an oil skimming vessel based at Sidney’s Van Isle Marina. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Oil spill response base taking shape on Saanich Peninsula

Enhanced base with elements in North Saanich and Sidney to be fully operational in fall 2022

The O’Meara family – (left to right) Mari, Max, Adam and Rei – spent Saturday afternoon picking out the perfect tree. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Santa’s Forest tree sale in Saanich implements one-way perusing, curbside pick up

Christmas tree, wreath sales in Braefoot Park through Dec. 24

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement forecasting windy weather Sunday and Monday. (News Bulletin file photo)
More windy weather on the way for Vancouver Island

Environment Canada issues special weather statement for Victoria, east coast of Island, north Island

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Kevin Bieksa during his days playing with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
Bieksa to guest on free Canucks Alumni ‘Hot Stove’ on Zoom app

Former NHL player has become a game analyst on Sportsnet

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Most Read