Well, it was fun while it lasted. Earlier this week, Canada became the second country in the world to legalize marijuana at the national level, giving adults at least 18 years of age the freedom to purchase weed from retail outlets. However, just days after the cannabis industry opened its doors, they are starting to run out of pot, according to a new report from the Globe and Mail.
As of Thursday, provinces were sending out the proverbial SOS signal to cannabis producers in hopes of putting more marijuana on the shelves. Legions of cannabis customers flocked to both dispensaries and online to take advantage of the newly legal pot market. And while most establishments were stocked up and raring to go by the time officials sales were permitted to get underway, the supply just wasn’t enough to keep up with the extreme demand.
Unfortunately, it’s not an easy fix.
Although those connected to the scene are doing everything in their power to maintain during these turbulent times, the cannabis plant only grows so fast. “We’re not meeting expectations. Nobody is,” said Vic Neufeld, chief executive of Leamington, Ontario-based cultivation firm Aphria Inc.
The cannabis shortage that swept the nation just a day after legal sales were up and running was predicted. A report published last week by CBC News suggested that cannabis users might want to hang on to their drug dealers number a little while longer. Economist Rosalie Wyonch of the think-tank C.D. Howe Institute told the news source that “We didn’t have enough producers far enough ahead from legalization…to deliver enough product to market by the time legalization happens.”
Some early predictions suggested that the nation needed in upwards of 2 million pounds of weed to meet the demand. Health Canada recognized the potential supply problem and ramped up production efforts over the summer. More than 70 additional cultivation facilities were employed to increase the supply. Even still, no one had any idea how much marijuana was retail ready by the time the stores opened their doors on Wednesday.
Not nearly enough, some shop owners say. Many of them did not get the supply their producers promised.
“I’m a little shocked that I sold out so fast, and also very upset that I don’t have product for everybody,” Thomas Clarke, who operates a store in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, told the CBC. “I’m letting down a lot of people here and I was assured that if I paid for the cannabis I would receive it.”
It was just earlier this week that a story from the New York Times pointed out that Canada might have something to learn from California. The piece suggested that the black market would continue to flourish in the northern nation due to high prices. Instead, it turns out that the black market will likely continue to shine on in Canada due to the legal weed shortage – and the operative word there is “legal.”
There is still plenty of marijuana in Canada to go around. The country was home to a $6 billion underground pot trade before all of this legalization business took hold. But all of that weed is technically off-limits, as far as the government is concerned.
“As a country, we don’t have a shortage of marijuana; we have a shortage of legal marijuana,” Wyonch said.
So never fear Canadians. There is still plenty of pot to be had. Unfortunately, it is going to take some time for the legal system to catch up with itself. Until then, outlaw commerce should be alive and well.