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Canada Is Already Experiencing Cannabis Shortages

The first day of legalization saw both brick and mortar and online stores selling out quick as Canadians tried to get their hands on legal bud.
A lineup outside a weed store.
Photo via John Woods/Canadian Press.

Canadians loved their legal weed so much that many stores ran out of stock of the first day of legalized cannabis and no one is sure when the shortages will end.

Across the country, smokers of all pedigrees (including one brilliant dude named Tim) either logged onto a website or waited for hours outside a store to get their hands on some legal weed. We all knew the demand was going to be great and anticipating this many stores, both of the online and brick and mortar variety, stocked up on everything from bongs to pre-rolled doinks.


The thing was, in many places, that just wasn’t enough.

The provincial belle of the legalization ball, Newfoundland and Labrador, had several stores that had to stop sales because they ran out of product. One store owner, who the gods must be laughing at, said out of all goddamn times they somehow ran out of weed at 4:20.

It’s not something he’s very happy about.

"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 runs THC Distribution 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."

Clarke told CBC he didn’t get the full supply he ordered from his producer, so he was starting out with low stock. This isn’t a unique problem, other stores have similarly sold out across the province and the country.

In Quebec, customers waited for hours in lines to get into the store but many were sent home without being served; even if they did get in, they found a limited supply. One disappointed customer told the Montreal Gazette, “for me, the score is: black market, 1; government, zero.” Moving west to Saskatchewan—where no stores opened in their major cities—some stores simply didn’t open on October 17 because they just couldn’t get enough supply on time. Turning our eyes north to the Northwest Territories, the only store selling weed in Yellowknife ran out of supply before the end of Wednesday.


Perhaps the biggest snafus occurred on the incredibly busy online stores, which were the primary options for the majority of consumers in the country—especially those in Ontario, Nunavut, and BC. Customers of the online stores were hit with glitches, sold out products, and at times, the websites failed.

In Ontario, the online store offerings slowly got smaller and smaller as more products sold out—within hours only one product grown by the country’s largest producer was available. In British Columbia, the weed province, within minutes of opening their online stores sold out of the cheapest bud it was offering, and by the morning most of its product was gone. The website in Nunavut crashed several times throughout the day and by the time it was up and running for most customers, its stock was sold out.

One company in Winnipeg sold out completely online in the early morning, selling $50,000 worth of product by the time they were done. The province of Alberta sold out of cannabis oil. Only limited products were available in some Nova Scotia stores. The examples go on and on.

What’s more is that the rotating strike by Canada Post has been affecting some deliveries of the online purchases. Wheee!

The situation isn’t the most surprising, as a shortage was forecast by those monitoring the industry. In a study released earlier this month, researchers at the University of Waterloo and the C.D. Howe Institute found that while Canada could supply around 210 tonnes of the good stuff, but the demand would be around 610. One producer actually acknowledged to the Globe and Mail that they’re “not meeting expectations.”

Many stores are expecting to get in a shipment of legal bud they can sell before the weekend hits. At the end of it though, we must remember, this was day one of us turning a formerly illegal substance legal so we can’t complain too, too much.

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