Original cannabis journalism for Canadians

Legal cannabis consumers want the good stuff, survey suggests

A new survey suggests Canadian cannabis users expect legalization to open the door to higher-quality weed. (Matilde Campodonico/Associated Press)

A new cannabis report by consultancy Deloitte is all over Canadian weed news today.

Various media outlets have found various angles on Deloitte's online survey of 1,500 Canadian adults, ranging from "Two-thirds of current pot users will switch to legal retailers" (The Canadian Press) to "Canadians will spend up to $7B on cannabis in 2019" (CBC News) to "Middle-Aged Dads Likely to Smoke More Legal Pot Than Canadian Teens" (Bloomberg).

Predicting future consumer trends makes for clickable headlines, as do dramatic sales estimates and especially dads smoking more than their kids. But here at The Leaf, we thought the most interesting tidbit in Deloitte's survey had to do with why two-thirds of Canadian cannabis consumers might want to choose legal cannabis over the black market stuff they're already using.

Beating the thriving black market for marijuana is one of the federal government's key goals with legalization. Over the past year, we've heard plenty of speculation about whether Canada's legal cannabis industry can help Ottawa achieve that dream.

According to the usual logic, the white market will compete with the black market primarily on price. That's going to be tough, especially since illegal weed sellers generally offer bulk discounts that the future legal market can't match.

Fifty-five per cent of current cannabis users told Deloitte they expect legal cannabis to cost more. The poll suggests Canadian weed users would be willing to pay nine per cent more for the privilege of purchasing legally.

But Deloitte's survey also suggests many future cannabis consumers will base their purchasing decisions on something other than retail prices: Canadians want high quality weed.

Deloitte asked current cannabis consumers to rank their top reasons for planning a switch to the legal market. "Better-quality products" was the number one reason, cited by 55 per cent of respondents.

Unfortunately, Deloitte didn't ask its respondents exactly what they believe signifies quality in weed. The look? The smell? The way it's grown? The colour of the ash? The way it makes them feel?

Plus, how will advertising and branding restrictions affect legal cannabis producers' ability to convey that quality?

No doubt the industry is busy answering those questions right now.

In the meantime, black market cannabis dealers should take note: low prices alone might not be enough to keep customers on board. After legalization, Canadians are expecting the good stuff.


New on The Leaf

  • Empire building: The new Canadian TV series "Bud Empire" takes viewers inside a B.C. cannabis dispensary.
  • Sticking up for home cultivation: A Manitoba man is launching a sticker campaign to try and convince the provincial government to change its mind on growing weed at home.
  • Endangered swag: A proposed Senate amendment would ban the use of "cannabis brand elements" on promotional items like t-shirts.

Elsewhere on the Weed Wide Web

  • "Weed for non-smokers": Veteran CBC Business reporter Dianne Buckner examines a host of ways that Canadians can get high, no fire needed.
  • Delay, denied: Conservatives in the Senate tried to delay cannabis legalization with an amendment, but the attempt got voted down Monday night.
  • Alberta advantage: For would-be private cannabis retailers, the Wild Rose province looks like heaven.

What Next

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