Sales for recreational marijuana could be as high as $8.7 billion a year once legalized in Canada, consulting firm Deloitte estimates.
Of course, future numbers will all depend on what the government sets the price of pot at as it attempts to put an end to the black market industry.
To figure out where those numbers should be, the federal government has turned to Statistics Canada for help and, in turn, the federal data collection agency is looking to the public for help.
“We’re going to social media. We’re crowdsourcing,” said Tony Peluso, assistant director for Statistics Canada. “We’re going on sites and looking at what online retailers are selling for.“
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One of the websites Statistics Canada has been using is called priceofweed.com where information about the street price of pot is crowdsourced.
Buyers enter their recent sales transactions so that others in their region can get a sense of what the going price for pot is.
“The more information the better,” Peluso said. “We have to process it and we have to validate it and whatnot but we’re going to all of the sites and PriceofWeed.com would certainly be one of those.”
Amercanex, a private firm that builds electronic marketplaces for the legitimate cannabis industry, says StatsCan’s research will be key once recreational pot becomes legal in 2018.
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“The value of it would be at the outset, which is to understand the incumbent market which is, as we know, an illegal market, and figure out where they are,“ Edward Asensi, vice-president of business development for Amercanex, said.
“Pricing is going to be a big challenge when you have province-run retail solutions,” Asensi said. “Where the demand really is. What their customers are willing to pay for recreational cannabis for example.”
In 2015, Canadians consumed $6.2 billion worth of cannabis, Statistics Canada announced Monday.
Those numbers would put the black market pot industry about a half to two-thirds the size of the $9.2 billion beer market, the study said.
The Statistics Canada study estimated there were 4.9-million medical and recreational users of cannabis aged 15 and older in 2015.
The study estimated Canadians used 697.5 tonnes of cannabis in 2015.
*With file from Reuters