Will Quebec and Ontario’s cannabis dispensaries recover from the shortage?

Published Apr 9, 2019 11:36 a.m. ET
Canadian Press, Tijana Martin

When the Canadian government rolled out its official plans for marijuana legalization, very few had any idea what sort of struggles such a brand-new industry might face. Especially in the earliest days of selling legal marijuana for the first time in a new and highly regulated way. It was decided that each province would be given the power to ultimately decide what direction this new Cannabis industry would go moving forward. The only thing that seemed to be evenly divided among all the provinces involved was the lack of product and sky-high prices. So, what caused the shortage? And is the problem going to sort itself out anytime soon?


One of the most significant contributing factors to the shortage of legal marijuana available in dispensaries right across Canada including OCS is a lack of suitable and licensed growers. At one time the Canadian government had contracts with thousands of private growers who supplied all medical cannabis users with the product via mail and in bulk pricing. The problem with that process was the lack of quality and efficiency since most privately licensed growers grew outdoors or in a small self-built grow room that could manage a supply for only one or two patients each while still remaining within their legal limits on the number of plants, they could produce at any one time.  

Once marijuana legalization came into effect, the provinces were also given jurisdiction over where cannabis growing facilities could exist and how they should be licensed. Most regions chose to immediately open dispensaries in more significant numbers, while others like Ontario chose to go a different route, only offering online sales with a shipping fee and three day wait. The problem was that there were not enough legally licensed producers to supply the demand from the public as over 50% of dispensaries were announcing shortages mere hours into the first day of legalization. Shocking Canadians who have been watching black and grey market cannabis dispensaries flourish with shelves full of product.

The result

OCS has to cancel well over 2000 orders that were made on the very first day of the site going live, and store front type legal marijuana dispensaries shuttered their doors or cut back opening hours while offering minimal product and weed strains to choose from. The dispensaries in Quebec were hit the hardest and forced to close for three full days a week while rebuilding stock and waiting for new shipments to arrive.



Now that some time has passed and licensed growers have had some time to pull off a successful harvest and get a better understanding of how much legal marijuana they will be expected to supply, the local dispensary shelves are slowly refilling, and they have announced one full extra day of access for customers.

What’s changed

Up until now Quebec dispensaries were closed Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. They will now remain closed only on Mondays and Tuesdays.

When are they expected to recover fully?

While no one can say for certain exactly how long it might take to have a reliable and well-established supply of legal marijuana. Producers and dispensaries are only expecting these shortages to last a few more months at most. Many are remaining hopeful that this is just a hiccup in the messy process of starting a brand-new industry surrounding such a taboo substance that has been vilified for years.



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