Recreational cannabis will become legal next week, but outlets to buy legal weed will be sparse in many areas of the country, according to a report from Bloomberg. On October 17, Canada will legalize the recreational use and sale of cannabis nationwide under Bill C-45, which was passed by Parliament this summer.
Few retail stores will be open and ready to sell cannabis on the first day of legalization. In British Columbia, only one retail store will be open on Oct. 17. The countries most populated province, Ontario, will have none. Alberta expects to have 17 retail stores open and Saskatchewan expects a similar number. Officials in Quebec and Nova Scotia predict 12 stores will be open in each of those provinces.
Pot May Be in Short Supply
Jason Zandberg, an analyst with PI Financial, said that legal cannabis may not be easy to find once it’s legal in Canada.
“There just isn’t that much product that’s going to be available day one,” said Zandberg.
Products available for sale at the onset of legalization will be in short supply. Cannabis producers may not be able to fill the initial demand and products are expected to be limited to flower and extracted oils. Marijuana edibles will not be legal in the country until some time next year.
Zandberg also said that the uncertain supply chain may be the reason more retail stores will not yet be ready to sell legal pot.
“It will be a fairly thin market to begin with and maybe that’s why a lot of these provinces haven’t rushed to get retail locations and bricks and mortar for day one,” said Zandberg. “I would expect there to be long waits and very limited product types.”
Researchers Anindya Sen at the University of Waterloo and Rosalie Wyonch of the C.D. Howe Institute wrote in a report to be released this week that delays in licensing of cannabis manufacturers may cause product shortages for at least six months.
“There will not be enough legal supply, especially during the first half of the year following legalization, primarily because of the slow rate of licensing producers,” according to their report.
In British Colombia, the provincial liquor agency said in a statement that low crop yields and a shortage of appropriate packaging will mean lower cannabis inventories than anticipated.
“The volume of product will be considerably lower than what licensed producers originally committed to providing,” the statement reads. “BC is not alone in this situation; shortages are expected to impact all jurisdictions across Canada.”
Government Says the Industry is Ready
However, Mathieu Filion, a spokesman for Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, said that cannabis companies are ready for legalization.
“Based on current inventory levels and growth in production capacity, the industry is well positioned to supply product as consumers transition to the legal market,” Filion said
John Arbuthnot, the CEO of retail Delta 9 Cannabis in Winnipeg, Manitoba, said that his company will have a 3,200 square foot location open for the first day of legalization.
“As much as it seems we had several months to put this all together, October 17 is coming very quickly,” said Arbuthnot. “We’re going to see some successes on day one and we’re going to see some hiccups as well.”