Over the past few years, the global legal cannabis industry has shown exponential growth, with further substantial growth expected in the coming years. According to market research, the global cannabis industry was valued at USD 22.10 billion in 2020, with North America, the largest and fastest-growing market, contributing USD 16 billion.

As legalities shift and change across the country, we are beginning to see new markets opening up - and existing markets skyrocket.

In this article we will take a look at the growth of the cannabis market in Canada and the USA in the past year - and how many new and existing dispensaries each market and region currently boasts. 

how many dispensaries are there in 2021

How many cannabis dispensaries are in North America in 2021?

As the cannabis industry continues to grow, North American growing operations and licensed producers are scaling up across multiple states and regions, with a particular focus on retail distribution.

With over 7,000 dispensaries in America, and 2,500 in Canada, the North American cannabis dispensary market is quickly approaching 10,000 stores Nationwide - and is growing quickly. 


How many cannabis dispensaries are there in Canada in 2021?

In Canada, where recreational cannabis has been legal since 2018, the number of cannabis dispensaries had increased from a paltry 407 in July 2019 to a staggering 1751 by June 2021, according to this analysis by Statista, with Alberta and Ontario contributing to over half that number.

Unsurprisingly, over the past three years, Alberta and Ontario, two of the country’s most populous regions, have remained leaders in the cannabis dispensaries sector. In 2019, soon after regulation making recreational cannabis legal was passed, Alberta had 176 cannabis stores open. In comparison, Ontario had only 24 cannabis dispensaries at that time.

However, by September 2021, Ontario had seen exponential growth in the number of cannabis dispensaries to 1000 across the region, surpassing Alberta’s 578 cannabis dispensaries.


How quickly is the cannabis market growing in Canada?

Brightfield Group released its latest Canadian Cannabis Market Report in April 2021. The report showed triple digit growth in the Canadian cannabis market, with this growth primarily driven by:

  • Increased brick-and-mortar retail access, particularly in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec
  • Expanded e-commerce and click-and-collect offerings
  • Lower prices that were more competitive than the illicit market
  • Retailers adapting to a COVID-19 context, with increased growth despite lockdowns and store closures

Jamie Schau, International Research Manager at the Brightfield Group, said, “The Canadian market is witnessing impressive growth, with adult-use cannabis growing 118% in 2020, and in line to grow another 60% this year.

That growth has ushered in a new era of adult-use cannabis, one that has brought not only an ever-evolving set of both 1.0 and 2.0 product offerings but increasingly sophisticated and strategic competitors across the supply chain, and more diverse and demanding consumers.”

“The Canadian market is witnessing impressive growth, with adult-use cannabis growing 118% in 2020, and in line to grow another 60% this year. That growth has ushered in a new era of adult-use cannabis, one that has brought not only an ever-evolving set of both 1.0 and 2.0 product offerings but increasingly sophisticated and strategic competitors across the supply chain, and more diverse and demanding consumers.”

How many cannabis dispensaries are there in America in 2021?

With more states in the U.S. legalizing the recreational use of cannabis, the number of cannabis dispensaries across the U.S. has reached an all-time high.

Market research from Kisi showed that the U.S. currently boasts over 7000 cannabis dispensaries countrywide, with the top three states represented as follows:

  • Oklahoma – 2129
  • California – 1440
  • Oregon – 1344
top states in cannabis

As pioneers in the legalization of the recreational use of cannabis, it is unsurprising that these states have shown such growth in the retail sector of the cannabis industry. Oregon has one of the fastest growing markets in the country, with an impressive per capita value of 16.5 dispensaries for every 100,000 people. 

Oklahoma comes a close second, with a dispensaries per capita value of 15.6 per 100,000 people. With more legislation favoring the legalization of the recreational use of cannabis on the horizon, market experts expect these numbers to continue to grow to cater to the massive cannabis market offered by the U.S.


How quickly is the cannabis market growing in America?

The cannabis industry is one of the fastest growing in America, with the Leafly Jobs Report reporting that the sector currently employs 321,000, a 32% increase on last year. A report by BDSA, a cannabis sales data platform, forecast cannabis sales in the U.S. to surpass USD 24 billion by the end of 2021, a growth of 38% over the previous year’s sales. 

According to Kelly Nielsen, VP Insights and Analytics BDSA, three things drove sales growth in the U.S., namely:

  • Mature markets like California, Colorado, and Oregon saw more customers, with California, the world’s largest legal cannabis market, seeing the largest gain, growing 25%.
  • New markets in states like Illinois, Arizona, and Massachusetts, which recently legalized adult-use cannabis.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic, during which many states deemed cannabis dispensaries and cultivation facilities essential, making them an early refuge for retail and restaurant workers who had been furloughed because of the pandemic.


What is next?

The cannabis market continues to grow quickly, and holds big opportunities in markets that are close to legalization, or are currently looking into adjusting existing laws.
In other regions where many licenses have already been issued, cannabis dispensary growth is expected to slow or steady, as the government puts restrictions back in place to manage the market.

So if you are keen to learn more important industry insights on the cannabis industry in 2021, be sure to download our free report! 

how much did the cannabis industry grow in 2021