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Medical cannabis sales rise in Canada after adult-use legalization

Sales of medical marijuana oil in Canada rose steadily in the months after recreational legalization, bucking a trend seen in some American states that also ended prohibition in recent years.

The volume of medical cannabis oil sold in Canada’s regulated market rose to nearly 5,000 kilograms (11,023 pounds) in January compared with the 4,400 kilograms shipped to patients in October 2018.

Data on the number of new patients over the same period is not yet available.

Sales of dried medical marijuana in Canada dropped slightly in January to 1,770 kilograms compared with October’s 1,890 kilograms.

Canada legalized recreational cannabis Oct. 17, 2018, but maintains a separate program for medical marijuana.

The only way to access legal medical cannabis in Canada is to obtain an authorization from a medical practitioner, then register with a licensed producer and have the product mailed to the patient.

Some industry sources predict Canada’s medical marijuana sales may start to decline after adult use commands more market share.

But that could be years away.

The full financial effect of Canada’s recreational marijuana legalization is not expected to be felt for some time. The early months have been marked by a small number of physical stores in most provinces and limited product selection.

If Canada’s medical sales do end up declining, that would be in line with trends observed in U.S. states that have legalized cannabis for recreational use.

In states such as Nevada and Oregon, the number of medical cannabis patients fell in the immediate months after adult-use legalization.

Colorado, meanwhile, saw steady medical users in the two years after legalization before seeing a sharp decline thereafter.

Reasons for the decline post-legalization vary depending on the market, but reasons cited include high costs for medical marijuana cards and ease of access to the recreational market.

Matt Lamers can be reached at [email protected]

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