In Statistics Canada's latest monthly domestic retail sales update, the government's official numbers cruncher revealed that cannabis sales rose by 19% on a month-over-month basis in March to $181 million Canadian (US$130 million). That gain contrasted dramatically with a relatively pronounced decline in overall retail sales in the country of nearly 8% in the same timeframe.

Much of this, it has to be said, is likely due to "stocking up" behavior among cannabis consumers. March is when mandatory business shutdowns necessitated by the the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus began in many locations, Canada included. People tended to buy large amounts of goods that would sustain or otherwise help them in the isolated circumstances dictated by stay-in-place measures.

Marijuana bud with Canadian flag in the background.

Image source: Getty Images.

That said, marijuana was one of the very few retail categories that saw a month-over-month uptick in March. Its gain was eclipsed only by that of food and beverage stores, which collectively saw a 22% increase in sales. General merchandise retailers also enjoyed gains, but these came in at under 7%.

That March sales figure for cannabis, by the way, is the largest since the country's legalization of the drug, which began in October 2018. It also reverses the latest dynamic; as February sales were nearly 2% down from the January figure.

Although they don't break out monthly sales figures as a habit, Canada's top marijuana companies surely benefited from the March rise. Nevertheless, it seems that some are finding the domestic market restrictive. On Thursday, for example, Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB) announced a deal to acquire U.S.-based cannabidiol specialist Reliva. Aurora could end up paying as much as $85 million for the company.

On Friday, Aurora's shares fell by almost 8%, while the broader stock market closed the day in positive territory.

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