How Canada’s cannabis retail market reflects neighbourhood diversity

Canada’s cannabis retail market

Canada has been a pioneer in legalizing cannabis for non-medical use in 2018, but how has this affected the distribution of retail stores across the country? A new study reveals that cannabis stores are evenly spread across different types of neighbourhoods, reflecting the diversity and demand of the Canadian population.

Cannabis stores not concentrated in low-income areas

Unlike in the US, where some studies have found that cannabis stores are more likely to be located in low-income or minority neighbourhoods, Canada’s retail market shows a more balanced pattern. The study, which looked at retail data up to and including September 2021, showed that in Canada’s first three years of legalization, retail cannabis stores were evenly distributed across “materially deprived neighbourhoods”. These are neighbourhoods that have lower levels of income, education, and employment.

The researchers used postal code data for all legal cannabis stores in Canada and linked them to the Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec measures for material and social neighbourhood deprivation. They found that the distribution of stores was closely aligned with the expected distribution across levels of material deprivation: for example, 19.5% of stores were located in neighbourhoods with the lowest level of material deprivation versus 19.1% in the highest level.

This suggests that cannabis stores are not targeting or exploiting low-income communities, but rather responding to market forces and consumer preferences.

Cannabis stores more common in socially deprived neighbourhoods

However, the study also found that cannabis stores were more prevalent in “socially deprived neighbourhoods”, which are characterized by more people living alone, being unmarried, or in single-parent families. These neighbourhoods tend to be more common in high-density urban areas than rural ones. About 60% of cannabis stores were located in these “socially deprived neighbourhoods”.

The researchers explained that this may be due to the fact that more people living alone, especially young adults, may have higher levels of cannabis use and demand. They also noted that urban areas tend to have more retail density and visibility, which may attract more cannabis stores. The study did not find any evidence that cannabis stores were clustered near schools, parks, or other places where children and youth may congregate.

Cannabis stores vary by province and retail model

The study also examined the differences across provinces and territories, which have different retail models and regulations for cannabis stores. They found that provinces with a private or hybrid retail model, such as Alberta, Ontario, and British Columbia, had more stores per capita than provinces with a public model, such as Quebec or New Brunswick. This is likely due to the greater flexibility and competition in the private sector, which may encourage more store openings and locations.

 Canada’s cannabis retail market

The researchers also noted that some provinces, such as Saskatchewan and Manitoba, had more stores in rural areas than urban ones, while others, such as Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, had the opposite pattern. These variations may reflect the local demographics, culture, and preferences of each province and territory.

Cannabis retail market still evolving in Canada

The study concluded that as the legal cannabis market in Canada continues to grow, it will be important to monitor the distribution of retail stores to see if the patterns remain the same or change over time. They also suggested that more research is needed to understand the impact of retail availability on cannabis use patterns, behaviours, and outcomes among different populations and communities.

The study is one of the first to provide a comprehensive and national overview of the cannabis retail market in Canada, and offers valuable insights for policymakers, regulators, retailers, and consumers.

By Ethan Mitchell

Ethan Mitchell is the visionary founder of CBD Strains Only, a leading online platform dedicated to providing premium CBD products and information. With a passion for holistic wellness and a deep understanding of the benefits of CBD, Ethan's mission is to empower individuals to enhance their well-being through high-quality CBD strains.

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