No more lineups at cannabis dispensary grand openings in Canada

Published Mar 4, 2020 12:00 p.m. ET
iStock / Justin Cannabis

On the very first day of federal marijuana legalization in Canada, people all over the country waited patiently in line for the opportunity to be the first in their area to buy legal weed. It was an exciting time, with a pumped-up atmosphere, and consumers who were willing to wait in the cold for several hours straight just to hold the first place in a lineup on the big opening day.

Storefronts weren't the only ones who got the pleasure of a sudden rush, as online recreational dispensary options crashed and sold out within minutes, resulting in a nearly instant shortage of products across all buying platforms at a scale, unlike anything that we have seen before.

At this point, Canadians were still hopeful about the idea of what a regulated recreational dispensary could offer, assuming that high-quality products would be available at prices that were competitive with the black market. Unfortunately, this trend of cleared cannabis dispensary shelves was one that only lasted for a few months before fizzling out and leveling at a rate that remains consistent today.

That means that when a storefront opens these days, it’s nowhere near the grand media covered event that it once was. It also shows that dispensary owners must get a whole lot more creative to entice a crowd, especially if they want to stay competitive with the thriving black market.

A loss of interest

It was a memorable occasion for many, the very first days of having access to a legal recreational dispensary, but now that everyone has seen what all the fuss was about, it seems that they are disappointed with the results. Some cite issues with quality after massive recalls for moldy weed made headlines, while others complain of high taxes and surprisingly high costs of raw product that is typically as much as 50% more expensive than the black market.

Experts say that there aren’t enough cannabis products to keep consumers coming back, claiming that things will get better after the rollout of legalization 2.0, but so far, that’s just not the case, and it shows. If you were to show up at almost any cannabis dispensary on an opening day now, you’d be lucky to find a single soul waiting outside for the chance to shop, and that’s becoming a bit of a concern for brand new businesses who are trying to break into the industry.

What’s next

Though things might be looking a bit grim at the moment, particularly for those who were invested in the success of this brand-new industry, there is still plenty of hope for the future of the storefront dispensary, but it’s going to take some pretty significant changes to turn things around for this struggling market.

Some companies are looking at upgrading to weed delivery services, and others are fighting for the right to sell cured cannabis flowers without having to sell them and then buy it back from the government leading to sky-high prices.

The other big change that we are about to see is how the cannabis space is presented, as right now, we can only buy products. Different regions are taking their own approach, but all across Canada provinces are looking at things like cannabis lounges, cafes, hotels, events, restaurants, and other attractive possibilities that could entirely change the game.

Canadians might not be jumping for joy at the idea of a dispensary anymore, but they sure are looking forward to other offerings that align with their love of weed.

Why most Canadians still prefer black market cannabis

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