OTTAWA, Ontario- Last week, legal sales of recreational cannabis were legalized in Canada. There was quite a bit of media attention on the issue as Canada is the only G-7 nation to have legalized recreational cannabis nationally. The only other country to do so is Uruguay.
However, as we have seen domestically in the U.S. when state markets come online, initial shortages are quite common. Canada is experiencing the same issue. Retailers are struggling to replenish their inventory and customers are becoming frustrated.
Ian Dawkins, President of the Cannabis Commerce Association of Canada, believes the supply crunch was caused by the fact that smaller growers are at a disadvantage compared with larger producers. “Micro growers have about 90 percent of the crop. Until they are licensed to bring their existing crops into the rec system we’re hooped,” Dawkins told mg.
Dawkins believes that many large producers were growing cannabis intended for recreational use under their medical licenses, which is against the rules.
“If you start licensing people the same time the stores open, of course only the big pharmaceutical guys are going to be ready, the guys who cheated on their medical licenses to grow a bunch of rec weed are going to be ready and the little guys are not,” Dawkins said. “The little guys have not even had a chance to even file their paperwork yet.”
There have been calls to legalize cannabis for years in Canada but the issue got serious traction when current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was running for office in 2015. Trudeau made cannabis legalization a key issue of his campaign. Trudeau assumed office on November 4, 2015, but finally announced a date for legal sales in June.
Under the new regulations, adults 18 and over may possess up to 30 grams of cannabis flower in a public setting. They may also cultivate up to four plants per residence for personal use. Additionally, adults are permitted to make their own cannabis products, included edibles and infused beverages, at home as long as organic solvents are not used to create concentrated products.
Statistics Canada reports that 5.4 million Canadians will purchase cannabis products from licensed dispensaries in 2018. Currently, approximately 4.6 million Canadians have reported cannabis use in the past three months.