Canada legalized marijuana for recreational use among adults as of October 17 of this year, and the country is already running into issues with the regulatory shift. One of the biggest problems? Canadian producers and retailers are unable to keep up with the demand among consumers for cannabis products. This has happened, according to Fortune, in spite of the fact that the country's Parliament voted to legalize marijuana in June, providing growers, distributors, and others in the industry several months of time to prepare for the change.
Supplies Run Low
According to Vice, the issues with marijuana supplies started almost immediately upon legalization. Customers in Quebec, Newfoundland, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories all ran into problems purchasing legal cannabis in the early days of the new regulations. Beyond that, online shops across the country found it difficult to maintain their supplies in the face of overwhelming demand.
In Canada, retailers selling marijuana and related products are issued licenses by the government. Even those licensed providers, however, were not able to access adequate supply when they ran out of product. Reportedly, some retailers have found that orders were only partially filled. Calgary's Beltline Cannabis retail shop reportedly ran into these issues, according to representative Karen Barry. Speaking to CBC, Barry said that "we were on the website, but there is nothing on the website. There is no product. I'm sure the [Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission] is working hard to remedy the problem."
What it Means
Legal cannabis is presumed to become a major industry in Canada, with expectations of sales figures of roughly $6.5 billion per year. The fact that some retailers have had to actually close down their stores until the supply problem is adequately addressed means that the new industry could have a much tougher and slower time getting off the ground.
Analysts have predicted that legal cannabis in Canada would face growing pains and that there would be an extended period of time in which various snags and issues with the system were worked out. Nonetheless, reports suggest that licensed retailers who attempted to pre-order product in September, ahead of the legalization date, already faced issues obtaining cannabis products.
The cannabis industry in Canada is just getting on its feet, and investors and consumers should expect issues like supply problems to persist for some time into the future. Depending upon how flexible and reactive the Canadian federal and provincial governments are, these problems may continue to impact the space for weeks, months or even years into the future. In the meantime, Canadian cannabis customers will likely just have to remain patient.