Cannabis dispensaries stay open but offer limited product selection

Published Apr 7, 2020 09:00 a.m. ET
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All different types of businesses across Canada are closing at an alarming rate due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, a respiratory virus that is highly contagious and threatening to overwhelm our healthcare system. As Canadians double down to do the best they can to practice social distancing and slow the spread of the disease, some are surprised to find that cannabis dispensaries and liquor stores are, for the most part, business as usual, at the same time as most other luxuries remain out of reach.

Why are most cannabis dispensaries still open?

This isn’t a decision that is limited to stores within Canada, as health experts across the globe caution that taking away these essential services could very quickly result in a new health crisis. Alcohol withdrawal is a very real and potentially life-threatening condition that often requires medical supervision and medication to get through.

Cannabis, on the other hand, also comes with withdrawals that can occur in consumers who rely on it as a daily therapeutic aid, and the results are typically much less severe than those from alcohol, but since it is used as a medicine for a wide range of medical conditions, it’s getting special consideration from both the federal and the provincial governments.

Health and safety changes

If you do need to head out to refill your stash, then you will be happy to know that though sales are through the roof, most dispensaries are taking extra precautions to keep their employees and customers safe. This is done through a variety of different protocols, like more frequent sanitizing, opening a drive-thru window to keep customers outside, and taking the temperatures of delivery drivers, or customers who are about to enter a store.

A rush of sales at dispensaries

We’ve all been told to stock up on the essentials because right now it’s safer and more socially responsible to stay home as much as possible. There is still plenty of grocery, variety, and cannabis stores that are open for business, but consumers are doing their best to abide by the recommendations from our nation's top health experts, which means fewer store runs and larger purchases.


Media headlines have been all over the toilet paper shortage and cleared grocery store shelves, but most people don’t realize how a similar situation is happening right now in the cannabis industry. Dispensaries are seeing record-setting levels of sales, which is a great thing for the businesses who make cannabis products, but it’s not necessarily good for the average customers who are noticing an abrupt change in menu options.

Products that are in short supply

Edibles are one of the hardest-hit cannabis products at dispensaries across the country. These highly infused foods were challenging to get before panic buying set in, but now that the situation is starting to unfold, they are very quickly becoming one of the first things to sell out. Though edibles are popular, the second cannabis product to be bought up en mass is THC oil, and that includes both cooking oils and those that are compatible with vaping or smoking.

Is there any reason to panic?

It’s certainly not the best time to score cannabis or infused goods at a low price, and depending on where you go, for the next little while you may not be able to afford to be picky, but that doesn’t mean there is a reason to rush out and spend all of your savings on weed. Canadian dispensaries are working hard to keep their loyal customers satisfied, and though you may not always find your favorite brands or choices, there will always be something ready and waiting for you to buy.

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