Monthly sales of medical cannabis in Canada dropped almost 25% in June from October 2018, when adult use was legalized, according to the latest data from Heath Canada.
The new data also underscores challenges facing businesses focused on addressing demand in the medical industry.
In June, 1500 kilograms (3,307 pounds) of dried medical cannabis was sold by federal license holders in Canada. That’s down from almost 2000 kilograms in October 2018, the same month cannabis was legalized across the country.
– medical cannabis our rose, but only slightly, to about 4,600 liter (1,215 gallons) in June.
– After years of study growth, the number of active client registrations with federal license holders plateaued.
– June saw nearly 364,000 active patients, a small improvement over the 345,500 patients recorder last October. Marijuana shipment a tracked by the federal government dropped 17% from October 2018 to 118,000 in June. Sales of medical cannabis saw the biggest decline in provinces with more adult-use cannabis retail points.
For example, Alberta went from about 110.200 registered medical patients in 2018 to 94,300 in June.
Sales of dried flower and oil for medical use in Alberta were reflected in that decline, falling from 416 kilograms and o53 liters in October, respectively to 260 kilograms and 890 liters in June.
Affordability is one of the biggest issues hindering the growth of the medical cannabis sector.
Ottawa’s excise tax on adult-use cannabis was applied to medical sales last October, raising prices in many cases and making medical cannabis more expensive.
The excise tax is applied to the base price of the medication. Next the harmonized sales tax (HST), which varies from province to province, is applied to the sum of that price, making medical cannabis patients pay tax on tax.
Access is another hurdle hindering the growth of the medical marijuana sector over the last 10 months, according to some experts.
“The question comes down again to access. Because it may be poorly feasible for a patient to make another trip out, the adult-use market has increased access,” said Lucas McCann, chief scientific officer at Toronto-based regulatory consulting firm Canndelta.
“If patients register their information with a LP’s system, it could be burdensome to repeat the process again with a new LP and patients can only be registered with a single L.P,” he said
Tip of the Iceberg
An increasing number of employers across have added medical marijuana to their employee benefits plans, even if the totality of the covered remains a small percentage of the population.
McCann of Canndelta says, “The long-term game for the medical industry is the long game. Many pharmaceutical companies are looking to get a piece of the action and have already filed applications to become holders of a standard (license), microprocessors or cannabis drug licenses through Health Canada to compliment their drug establishment licenses, the license required to possess and manipulate narcotics and other controlled substances.
Aurora Bucks Trend
Industry heavyweight Aurora Cannabis and Canopy Growth together account for 44% of Canada’s 364,000 active patients. But the two companies are headed in opposite directions.
Canopy’s medical sales plunged to 13million Canadian dollars (9.8million) in its most recent quarter, an CA$8million decline compared to the same period a year earlier. The Smiths Falls, Ontario, company’s patient base fell to 70,900 registered patients.
Edmonton, Alberta-based Aurora saw medical revenue rise to CA $30million and it’s patient base increased to 89,700 registered patients.