There will be few places to buy cannabis in Canada on the first day of legal sales on October 17, as well as shortages of cannabis itself, Bloomberg reports.
There are few retail dispensaries across Canada that have been approved and completed the final steps necessary to open — there will be just one shop in British Columbia at launch, for instance; none in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province; and only a few dozen across the great expanses of Quebec, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
There will also be product shortages, experts predict. Demand for cannabis flower at launch was estimated by the University of Waterloo at 610 metric tons, but there is currently only 210 tons worth of production means. Some speculate the lax pace at which provinces have licensed dispensaries is due to this shortfall, which removes any hurry to provide locations to purchase cannabis products.
But many have placed the roll-out issues squarely on the government. Canada didn’t announce formally the date of first sales until mid-summer, leaving business owners scrambling to meet the necessary licensing steps, fund operations, and train employees. Ontario Premier Doug Ford even delayed the rollout of retail stores completely until next year, only providing cannabis for the province via the government-run, online store.
Mike Gorenstein, CEO of Cronos Group Inc. — one of the largest cannabis producers in Canada — called the first year of sales a “soft launch.” Newcomers to cannabis will probably have to wait until spring of next year before there is a smoothly-operating supply chain.
In the meantime, the illicit market is expected to satisfy the remaining demand.