B.C.’s unlicensed cannabis producers brought in $1.24B in 2019

A close-up of a cannabis plant in a licenced production facility in Kelowna, B.C. Flowr Corporation

More than a year after legalization, B.C’s licensed cannabis production still hadn’t caught up to the revenue generated by unlicensed producers, according to Statistics Canada data supplied by the province.

Unlicensed cannabis producers in B.C. brought in $1.24 billion in revenue in 2019 — about a third more than the $765 million brought in by licensed producers.

The province noted, however, that that licensed production is almost $600 million more than in 2018.

The B.C. government has been working to regulate more of the cannabis industry, as the minister in charge acknowledged in a recent interview with Global News that the legal market was not expected to overtake the illegal market in such a short time.

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“What we all understood would happen is that there would be a transition,” said Michelle Mungall, minister of jobs and economic development.

“People would want to be moving into the legal market and that is exactly what we are seeing in B.C., but they need help to do that and so we are here to provide that.”

One way the province is trying to help the legal industry grow is with an online tool to help prospective producers who may be more used to the less controlled black or grey markets to navigate the regulations.

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“They want to make the transition to a legal market and of course we as a society and as a government want them to do that, but they need help,” Mungall said.

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“That is exactly what [the online guide] is all about is making sure the help is there for them.”

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