Execs predict more shortages to come, marijuana suppliers say otherwise

Published Mar 8, 2019 12:15 p.m. ET
AP Photo/Ed Andrieski

At the stroke of midnight everywhere on October 17 of 2018 Canadians everywhere were ready and waiting to make their very first legal purchases of cannabis. Some lined up for hours beforehand, while others opted to sit in the comfort of their own home and wait for websites across the country to go live. Excitement was in the air for the entire day as many lit up what was often illegally purchased goods to celebrate the official day of legalization. Unfortunately, those who tried to partake in retail marijuana were quickly disappointed with what they saw. Incredibly limited amounts of herb were available with many stores both in person and online running completely out of stock by the end of the first day. The cannabis shortages across Canada did not take long to hit the media who was reporting complete store closures and inventory on many online websites dwindling forcing them to limit their products to one gram sales. What exactly happened, and is the future of weed supplied in Canada looking any brighter?  

What caused the shortage?  

Well, there seem to be more than a few opinions on the subject. The government's official stance has remained that there was simply no way to predict the demand for legal cannabis, and many stores have blamed the cannabis producers failing to meet a promised quota in time. Cannabis producers and suppliers, on the other hand, tell a slightly different story. One full of backlog and intense regulation making it nearly impossible for new producers to keep up to demand. The strict rules that are currently imposed on grow operations are more stringent than any others in the world. Many marijuana suppliers in Canada have said that it took Health Canada way too long to approve licenses and that the regulations in place force any new producers to go through a 2-3 year process before they can consistently get a reliable amount of product out the door.

What could be done to avoid another shortage?  

Right now, the most significant contributor to the shortage across Canada is the government who waited until the last minute to approve any licenses to carry the products. The second primary contributing factor is the communities that are pushing back and making change difficult to achieve. For a new marijuana producer to find a piece of land that they can freely grow on is incredibly difficult. The regulations are so stringent that they do not allow for any type of outdoor growing practices which was previously authorized for medicinal suppliers. A loosening of control and a willingness from both municipalities and the government to approve of their existence is key to staving off another shortage in the future.

The future of weed supplies in Canada  

Marijuana suppliers in Canada are confident that while we may still see empty shelves for a few more months, there is plenty of product sitting in vaults and ready to be shipped that will start what will be the first of many plentiful shipments. Expected to be on the market in the next few months alongside a steady flow of operations that are now fully established and ready to keep up to the increasing demand for marijuana and weed supplies in Canada. That doesn’t mean that you won’t ever see a sold out sign, but it is a good sign that cannabis producers are growing more confident in their ability to keep up with the brand new thriving industry of legal marijuana.

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