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Which Province will have the cheapest cannabis?

Which Province will have the cheapest cannabis?

With only a handful of provinces releasing their plans for the legalization of the recreational market we can look at two of those provinces to determine the lowest and the highest prices that consumers in this new framework will see in their local dispensaries. No province has released their regulations yet, so we do not know if there will be any volume pricing for quantities over that gram package.

New Brunswick was one of the early participants to announce their plans, striking up a deal and an advance purchase order with Tweed and Organigram to supply the market in the province. I have previously written about the New Brunswick no bid contract here, but the prices will work out to between $6-$8 a gram. That is before the ($1) sin tax, distribution and sales costs have been added. New Brunswick has created a for-profit Crown corporation that will be responsible for the distribution and sales.

Ontario has previously announced that their target is $10 a gram.

Contrast this with Quebec whose newly released plans are similar to Ontario’s in having the provincial liquor board control sales and distribution with one key exception. Quebec, in responding to the original spirit of Bill C-45 have chosen the goal of eliminating the black market to drive their policies and ensured that the newly formed crown corporation will be set up as a non-profit. You read that right, Quebec is more concerned with the elimination of the black market that in order to reduce costs to the end user it has stated that it does not want to make a profit. All profits will be funnelled back into education programs.

So in the war of which province will have the most open market, Quebec takes a giant leap ahead.

How distribution is shaping up from province to province

How distribution is shaping up from province to province

As with most services and federally regulated sectors in Canada, the Federal government when legalizing cannabis left most of the decision making in the realms of enforcement, distribution and selling in the hands of the Provinces.

By looking at how some of the different provinces are asking questions and developing regulations we can see how opinions are broken out by regions in Canada. For instance in Ontario, (who like every other province issued public surveys) when phrasing the questions on the sale and distribution of cannabis it was should it be run by the public (e.g. the government) or private sector (e.g. businesses) while in BC, the question added a third possibility, a mixture of both.


Set: Minimum Undecided
Distribution: Undecided
Sales: Undecided

Some municipalities, most in BC have been very vocal in terms of policies on which they wish to be heard and consulted. In February, BC Justice Miriam Gropper ruled that while the federal government creates the rules and regulations governing drugs such as cannabis that does not eliminate the rights of municipalities to have their own rules. Since then, cities have announced their preferences ahead of the province – some are even licensing current grey market providers while others like Richmond have banned business licenses for cannabis distribution.

BC is soliciting the public’s feedback in terms of what their final regulations will look like but no one expects them to create a government monopoly. More likely will be mix of public and private entities with power put into the municipalities hands to regulate how and what this will look like from community to community.

Set: Minimum Age 18
Distribution: Undecided
Sales: Undecided

Alberta announced their framework for the distribution and selling of cannabis with one thing left unclear – that being the selling and distribution. Alberta has a long tradition of fighting against government monopolies (think liquor)  but the NDP government, who is traditionally pro-union is facing low opinion polls and mounting pressure from the Alberta Union of Provincial employees to add to their rolls. Which way they lean will depend on what they think will garner them a raise in their poll numbers.

Set: Minimum Age 18
Distribution: Undecided
Sales: Undecided

Premier Brian Pallister has been a lone voice in calling for the Federal government to slow down the legalization train and Saskatchewan has spent more time how to ask for more time then they have figuring things out.


Set: Minimum Age 19
Distribution: Cannabis Control Board of Ontario (CCBO)
Sales: CCBO – 40 stores ready for legalization

Ontario has a Liberal provincial government that is mired in controversies facing an election year in 2018. They have understandably chosen to take a very cautious approach to regulating sales and distribution in Ontario and with a large, lobbying public servants union the choice of which approach they were going to take was pretty clear from the outset that it would be government run.


Set: Minimum Age 18
Distribution: Quebec’s liquor board, the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ)
Sales: Quebec’s liquor board, the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ)

New Brunswick

Set: Minimum Age 19
Distribution: NB Liquor Board
Sales: NB Liquor Board – 15 communities targeted for stand alone stores

New Brunswick was the first province to put in an advance order for cannabis from Organigram and Tweed.