Sales of cannabis products in the Northwest Territories have nearly tripled over the past three years, according to a new report from the Northwest Territories Liquor and Cannabis Commission (NWTLCC).
The NWTLCC produces quarterly reports on the sale of liquor and cannabis in the territory.
In the last quarter of 2018, NWT consumers bought about $688,000 worth of cannabis products, NWTLCC data shows. By the last quarter of 2021, sales had risen to nearly $1.9 million.
In its report on the 2020-’21 fiscal year, the NWTLCC records a 58% increase in cannabis sales over the previous year. By contrast, liquor sales increased by just 15.9% over the same period.
Dried cannabis sales continue to grow. In just the first three quarters of the current fiscal year, which ends March 31, 2022, dried cannabis has already generated $4.1 million — or about 77% — of all sales in NWT. In comparison, 2020/21 saw about $4.3 million in dried cannabis sales for the entire fiscal year.
Cannabis is currently sold in three liquor stores across the Northwest Territories under contract with the NTLCC, plus three private stores and one private online store.
It’s unclear how much of the upward trend in cannabis sales relates to the pandemic and how much is due to the the growth of the legal cannabis industry. A research letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in November found that mean monthly cannabis sales in Canada more than doubled from about $100 million pre-pandemic to about $256 million during the pandemic. However, the study’s authors called this finding “significant but uninformative” because of the steep rise in cannabis sales following legalization.
The JAMA researchers noted that their findings don’t represent the entire market. “This is particularly significant for cannabis, for which a large contraband market remains, and it is possible that the pandemic pushed consumers from illegal terrestrial purchasing to legal online purchasing,” they write.