In 2018, the Canadian government will officially legalize recreational marijuana. This is a highly popular move and many expect the industry to boom very quickly. But according to one expert, it may grow at a rate much faster than people expect.

Colin Firth (not the actor) is an analyst of the marijuana industry in Canada. However, he was disappointed with the lack of data about the market in the lead-up to legalization. So he teamed up with a research firm to conduct a massive survey about Canadians' interest in marijuana. He found that demand for cannabis may be much greater than anticipated.

The Canadian government estimates that there are between three and a half and four million marijuana users ages 15 and over in Canada right now. Firth's survey data finds that there's actually probably about double that number of users. And while the government anticipates there will be about five million customers in the recreational marijuana market once legalization occurs, Firth's data also find the actual number is about double that amount.

So why is Firth's data so different than the government's? Most of the government surveys only asked a few questions to around 1,000 to 1,500 people. Meanwhile, Firth's survey interviewed over 5,000 people and asked them 75 in-depth, detailed questions to get a more precise understanding of the country's marijuana market.

“You need to have an understanding of what is going to happen, because, based on our numbers, this is going to be bigger than anyone has anticipated or planned for and here we are providing them with that data that can help them to have a better understanding of what to expect as we move towards legalizing," says Firth. “This is uncharted territory for all of us. We wanted to provide a guidebook with some data that’s going to help people be better prepared.”

So while this data indicates that recreational marijuana will be a success in Canada, it also means the industry may not be fully prepared for how successful it will be. But that's what happens when you enter uncharted territory.