Canadians bought $55 million of marijuana in the second full month of legal sales, a modest beginning for a market investors anticipate will become a multi-billion dollar industry.

Sales rose 3.7 per cent in December from November’s initial tally of $53 million, Statistics Canada said Friday in a broader report on retail sales. The December sales bring the total since the market was legalized on Oct. 17 to $152 million.

With analysts estimating the market could eventually be worth at least $5 billion a year, there is still potential for sales to pick up as producers ease shortages of some strains and the province of Ontario starts opening a network of stores. Over the past two years, Canadian pot producers have seen their valuations rocket on expectations legalization will be a boon for business.

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The federal government is also still writing rules that would allow sales of edible products infused with cannabis. Public consultations on the new regulations closed Wednesday.

Consumer spending on cannabis was far behind the $2 billion of sales at beer, wine and liquor stores in December.

Statistics Canada has added cannabis to standard monthly reports on retail sales as part of a wider effort to include the sector in the nation’s economic accounts. The figures aren’t yet adjusted for seasonal variation.

--With assistance from Erik Hertzberg and Kristine Owram

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