Canada Has Destroyed Almost 4 Million Pounds Of Cannabis Since Legalization


Canadian cannabis operators faced a dire situation in 2022 and early 2023, grappling with excessive unsold inventory. Health Canada's data showed licensed producers destroying 611.7 million grams of unpackaged cannabis in 2022, a stark 44% increase from the prior year. This surge in destruction reflected the ongoing struggle to match supply with consumer demand.

Since Canada's legalization of recreational cannabis, over 1.7 billion grams of unsold dried flower and about 24 million packaged cannabis products met a similar fate. However, Health Canada's figures only accounted for the destroyed unpackaged cannabis, indicating the actual total exceeded 2 billion grams.

The main reasons for this vast elimination were the age and low THC content of the products. Farrell Miller, a seasoned cannabis industry figure, highlighted the lack of demand for aged and low-THC products, rendering them unappealing to manufacturers and consumers alike.

The imbalance stemmed from post-legalization fervor among licensed cultivators to mass-produce cannabis, driven by investor expectations and valuations based on production potential rather than actual market demand. This led to the creation of large-scale greenhouses that often failed to yield the high-quality, high-potency marijuana desired by consumers.

Furthermore, closures of cannabis-related businesses due to insolvency contributed to the destruction of unsold products, mandated by regulations if not liquidated before permit expiration.

Experts like Marie Sweeney urged improved coordination between federal and provincial regulators, along with cannabis license holders, emphasizing the necessity of stricter oversight, enhanced data sharing, and aligned policies. The goal was to manage excess cannabis production effectively while meeting consumer demands for higher THC content products.

The industry sought equilibrium, attempting to align production with market needs to mitigate the vast surplus that has plagued the Canadian cannabis market since legalization. The challenge was to find a balance where production meets demand without excessive surplus.

Moving forward, the industry required a more coordinated approach, integrating federal and provincial oversight to better understand what products make it to store shelves. The focus shifted toward adapting production to cater to consumer demands for higher THC content products while minimizing the accumulation of low-quality cannabis that often ends up destroyed due to lack of demand.

The hope was that by aligning regulatory efforts and refining production strategies, the Canadian cannabis industry could gradually steer away from surplus production, moving closer to a balanced supply-demand scenario.

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