Alberta suspends pot retail licences amid supply woes
Alberta’s cannabis regulator said it has received a fraction of the marijuana it ordered from producers and plans to suspend new retail applications, in yet another sign that supply issues have hampered Canada’s rollout of recreational pot in the first month of legalization.
Alain Maisonneuve, president and chief executive officer of Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis, said in a statement Wednesday that the supply problems have forced the province to suspend applications for new cannabis retail locations.
“AGLC ordered enough product to support up to 250 retail stores in the first six months of legalization; however, as of Nov. 17 we have only received approximately 20 per cent of what we had ordered,” Maisonneuve said.
The regulator, which manages the distribution of cannabis to private-sector stores and operates Alberta's only legal online cannabis store, said it has reached out to all producers with federal licences to sell cannabis, but hasn’t been able to solve its inventory issues.
Alberta’s supply issues mirror what several other provinces have faced since cannabis became legal on Oct. 17. Cannabis customers from coast to coast have bemoaned the lack of available marijuana to purchase following greater-than-expected demand and delivery delays amid a rolling Canada Post strike.
For their part, cannabis producers say they are trying to deliver their product as fast as possible. As well, Health Canada said it hired additional staff to handle the backlog of licence applications to help alleviate national cannabis supply bottlenecks.
Meanwhile, after weeks of shipment delays across Ontario, the Ontario Cannabis Store said it was back on track to deliver marijuana to residents in Canada’s most populous province earlier this month. But despite the availability of physical, bricks-and-mortar outlets in Alberta, stores in Calgary and Edmonton have had to either scale back hours or shut doors entirely due to inventory issues.
Prior to Wednesday’s statement from the AGLC, Alberta expected more than 250 pot retailers would be operating across the province by the end of the year.
“We will continue to allocate the majority of our scarce inventory to private retailers,” Maisonneuve said. “We will still maintain some online product to allow consumers in communities where there are not any retail stores to purchase online.”
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