Two weeks after Canada became the first G20 country to legalize cannabis amid much fanfare and celebration, numerous stores – both physical and digital – are struggling to meet unexpectedly high demand and in much of the country the legal supply of marijuana has dried up.
‘There is not enough legal marijuana to supply all of recreational demand in Canada’ said Rosalie Wyonch – a policy analyst at the CD Howe Institute.
‘The shortages are happening faster than I would have expected but our research suggested quite strongly that there would be shortages in the first year of legalization’.
A mix of regulatory frameworks – retail chain distribution and logistical kinks – including rolling postal strikes across the country – have created fertile ground for the shortages.
When Colorado legalized recreational cannabis it took three years for supply to finally catch up to demand and Canada could expect a similar delay said Wyonch.
In Quebec the Société Québécoise du Cannabis – a government entity overseeing sales – has opted to close three days per week in order to better ration its limited supply.
Online sales make up a large component of the recreational cannabis market.
In Ontario – where there are no physical retailers – residents are required to purchase products through a government-run web site.
Within the first 24 hours of legalization the Ontario Cannabis Store website processed 100,000 orders – but few of them have been shipped to customers.