Pot prices in New Brunswick higher than other provinces, StatsCan finds
Study estimates cross-country weed prices, and only the territories pay more than New Brunswickers.
The provincial government has not revealed how much consumers will have to pay once marijuana becomes legal, but Statistics Canada has found New Brunswick pot users already pay more than buyers do in other provinces.
In 2017, about 4.9 million Canadians between the ages of 15 to 64, spent an estimated $5.7 billion on medical and recreational cannabis.
The overwhelming majority of those purchases were for non-medical use, the agency said. While the price per gram of marijuana varied in each region of Canada, New Brunswick prices were the highest of the 10 provinces. Prices in the three territories were higher.
The data shows New Brunswickers paid an estimated $8.85 per gram for medical marijuana and $8.05 for recreational.
The province with the lowest prices was Manitoba, where cannabis for medical use cost an average $7.32 per gram and for recreational $6.65. In the territories, a medical gram cost $10.47 and a non-medical gram was $9.52.
Because recreational marijuana is still illegal, the agency said it had to make some assumptions about marijuana use.
"For example, Statistics Canada assumes that when someone reports consuming cannabis at least once a week, they actually consume cannabis 208 times per year, although this could range from 52 to 365 times," the agency said in a note on its website.
James Tebrake of Statistics Canada said the agency couldn't determine why costs varied from region to region. The data was collected using from health surveys and third-party websites. One of those, said Tebrake, was priceofweed.com, which has been gathering information from consumers since about 2010.
Tebrake said the price of marijuana is declining in Canada and the majority of Canadians buying it do so for non-medical purposes. Only about eight to nine percent of marijuana is estimated to be consumed for medical purposes, he said.
Statistics Canada's estimates also show the industry is likely contributing about $3 billion to the country's GDP, putting it on par with Canadian beer sales and ahead of the tobacco and wine industries.
Statistics Canada has launched a new crowdsourcing app on its website. Using anonymous reports, it hopes to gather more concrete numbers on consumption and prices per region.
Tebrake said it gets at the purpose of each purchase and drills down into more detail.
"Even more importantly," he said, "how much did you consume in grams?" Those figures could be revealed this April, he said.
Cannabis NB will be operated as a subsidiary of NB Liquor and will be opening 20 storefront locations throughout the province this July.