Canadian Legalization - A Year In Review

Canada made it through its first full year of legal cannabis! Our country made history on October 17, 2018 when we became the first ever G7 country—and the only country other than Uruguay—to legalize recreational cannabis use for adults. 

Happy anniversary Canada!

It’s been a hectic first year while retailers, producers, and cannabis-lovers alike learning to navigate new regulations. We all probably remember when Canada sold out of Cannabis in the first months of legalization… 

But that wasn’t the only memorable moment of the year. Canada hit many significant milestones, and we’ve shown the world what cannabis legalization can look like. 

Lets review what’s happened since October 2018. 

Hundreds of Stores Opened 

Legalization week was a mix of ups and downs. There were lineups around the block for the openings of legal dispensaries... while a significant number of illegal ones were being shut down around them. 

Ian Power and Nickki Rose make history as the first two people to purchase legal cannabis in Canada—buying from Tweed location in St.Johns, New Brunswick.

The excitement of the first day continued for months and resulted in a national shortage of legal cannabis.   

As of right now, there are currently 223 licensed cannabis cultivators, processors, and sellers in Canada. As of August, there were 489 licenced retail stores in operation… 270 of those in Alberta alone. We can expect to see those numbers rise over the coming years. 

Just recently, Ontario was approved to triple their number of recreational dispensaries for this coming fall!  

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!

Within the first three months of legalization, cannabis employment shot up by over 200%. In fact, there were so many jobs that Canada had to look for out-of-country workers to fill all of the vacant positions. 

Indeed reported that the number of cannabis-related job postings tripled, and that searches for those jobs nearly quadrupled leading up to and immediately following legalization. 

Cannabis jobs are shown to be well-paying too. A survey from Statistics Canada also found that most cannabis workers were employed full-time and receiving generally higher wages ($29.58) than the national average ($27.03).

Legalization has created roles across multiple sectors, such as retail customer service, greenhouse work, medical, marketing, accounting, and management...  just to name a few. 

This past year at Cannabis At Work, we’ve matched hundreds of employers with high-quality recruits from coast to coast. We’ve helped streamline the hiring process for both job recruiters and job searchers alike, and made placements in all job-types across the industry. 

Economic Growth 


The economic impacts of cannabis legalization are as many predicted… 

78.4% of adults who participated in a survey from Statscan said they’d spent at least $1 on cannabis in the past three months. 

The profits prove it… according to BNN Bloomberg “as of April, total assets in Canada’s cannabis space reached $4.2 billion, almost double the $2.5 billion that was counted in fiscal 2018.” 

The market is expected to grow up to $5.2 billion by 2024, which is lower than initial projections, but still substantial. 


New Opportunities in Education


Less expectedly, cannabis legalization has created new opportunities in education and academia. While many of these educational opportunities existed before, there are new programs being created regularly. 

Some companies have started to offer optional training programs to better prepare job-searchers and current employees for their cannabis-related roles.

Canadians Value Safety In Consumption


According to a survey by Statscan, more Canadians reported a preference of legal, over illegal use of Cannabis. The survey found that 47% of cannabis users (or 2.5 million Canadians) bought cannabis from legal sources in the first three months of 2019. This is a significant spike from the 23%, or 945,000 Canadians who bought cannabis legally over the same timeframe in 2018 before recreational cannabis was legalized.  

Three quarters of Canadians (76%) who reported using cannabis in the first half of 2019 stated that quality and safety are two of their most valued considerations when purchasing cannabis. In the times of the fentanyl crisis, it’s more important than ever for Canadians to have reassurance in a safe and quality product.

What Happens Next? 


As of right now, cannabis can be packaged and sold fresh, as dried bud, oil, plants or seeds. Other forms of consumption are not currently legal. 

But… that’s about to change! Edibles, beverages, topicals, and extracts are set to be legalized in December, but producers can expect tight restrictions on packaging. Packaging will have to be child-proof and not “appeal to minors,” which will ban popular forms of preparation like gummy bears.

That being said, some sources believe that the Canadian market for edibles and alternatives could reach up to $2.7 billion annually

Arizona Green Tea recently announced their licensing deal with Dixie Brands and their plans to produce cannabis-infused drinks, chocolates, gummies and topical creams… which opens the doors for a lot of interest & development in cannabis retail. 

There are a lot of exciting changes on the horizon. If you’d like to stay up to date with new information on cannabis in Canada, follow our blog

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