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When Trevor Tobin opened one of Canada’s first legal cannabis stores last month, he had high hopes of playing a small part in a historic national experiment — and of making a tidy profit.
Brimming with optimism, he and his mother Brenda pooled $100,000 in savings to create High North, one of the few private retailers in Newfoundland and Labrador.
But the pair quickly found themselves staring at empty shelves — and watching the money they had invested slip away. Day after day, staff at Labrador City’s only cannabis shop have had to turn away customers due to scarce inventory and have even gone as far as temporarily shutting down the store.
“After a week of 100 apologies [to customers] each day, we’re tired of just saying sorry,” said Tobin. “We were told there would be bumps in the road. This isn’t a bump in the road. This is a pothole.”
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.
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