Most marijuana users will go legal: survey

The Canadian Press
Joan Bryden

OTTAWA–Canadians who currently use cannabis expect to buy nearly two-thirds of their pot from legal retailers once recreational marijuana becomes legal in Canada, a new survey suggests.
Moreover, respondents to the survey say they expect to buy cannabis more often and are prepared to pay more for the legal product, generating up to $4.34 billion in total sales next year.
The findings were drawn from an online survey of 1,500 Canadians, conducted by Asking Canadians from March 6-20.
It was commissioned by accounting giant Deloitte, which provides audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk management, and tax services for its clients.
“What is certain is that legalization will open the doors to a dynamic and sophisticated industry that will create new jobs, new opportunities for businesses, and new revenue for government,” Deloitte concluded in a report on the survey.
“Executed well, legalization will also help shift a considerable proportion of cannabis consumption to legal channels in the years to come.”
The Trudeau government intends to have retail sales of cannabis up and running by late summer, assuming the legalization bill is passed by the Senate in a vote scheduled for June 7.
Overall, the survey suggests 63 percent of respondents expect to move from illegal suppliers to legal retailers. That includes 47 percent of frequent users and 69 percent of periodic ones.
“Legalization alone won’t persuade most current cannabis consumers to completely abandon their existing suppliers,” the report said.
“But our research suggests the right mix of quality, price, and safety could just do the trick.”
Among the things that would persuade current users to switch to legal retailers, 55 percent of respondents cited better quality products, 54 percent cited a range of prices, 47 percent cited products with a range of potency, and 41 percent cited products certified to be safe.
Based on the survey, Deloitte said the current average price for illegal cannabis is $8.24 per gram.
Respondents said they’re willing to pay a bit more–an average of $8.98 per gram–for legal weed.
Current consumers said the price would have to rise to almost $14 per gram before they’d stop buying while respondents who said they’re likely to become consumers once cannabis is legalized said they’d stop buying at about $11 per gram.
“Being responsive to consumers’ price sensitivities is essential if producers, manufacturers, and retailers are to be successful–and if governments are going to persuade a rising number of Canadians to purchase through legal retailers,” the report concluded.
According to the survey, frequent users expect to make 22 percent more purchases of cannabis under the legalized regime, although they expect to spend about the same each month as they do now–just less than $100.
However, respondents who currently are infrequent users expect their purchases to rise by 121 percent, with their total spending increasing by almost 70 percent to roughly $28 every three months.