In Brief

Canada facing marijuana shortage following legalisation

Uncertainty over future cannabis supplies sparks fears that buyers may return to black market

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Canada is running low on supplies of legal cannabis a month after laws allowing the recreational use of the drug kicked in. 

According to a poll by the non-profit Angus Reid Institute, one in eight Canadians has used marijuana since it was legalised on 17 October. But with demand outstripping supply in the new regulated market, authorities fears some users may return to buying from illegal dealers. 

Khurram Malik, CEO of Toronto-based cannabis company Biome Grow Inc, told Canada’s Global News that the shortages are the result of the government’s strict controls on marijuana, and the resulting time it takes for producers to develop a compliant product.

All private retailers are required to pass extensive background checks, and approved operators must order their cannabis through suppliers regulated by the provincial government. 

“The rules here are so difficult to grow cannabis, quite frankly more difficult than anyone else in the world,” said Malik.

Even companies that stockpiled supplies of marijuana before it was legalised are now reporting shortages.

James Burns, CEO of Alcanna, an off-licence chain that sells the drug in the province of Alberta, told the BBC that the provincial supplier, the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC), is out of stock on most cannabis products. 

“It doesn’t matter how big you are, there’s just none there. If the government warehouse is empty, it’s empty. There’s nothing you can do,” he said.

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