Canada Reports Pot Shortage Three Weeks After Legalization

Some frustrated consumers are returning to the black market. “We need more weed!,” says a marijuana retailer in Newfoundland.

Canada is running low on legal pot three weeks after the government approved the use of recreational marijuana. The shortage is sending some frustrated consumers back to the black market, the New York Times reports. At least three provinces — Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick — face a dearth of legal marijuana and two of them have seen outlets selling cannabis temporarily shut down. “We need more weed!” said Trevor Tobin, who teamed up with his mother to open a marijuana retailer called High North in Labrador City, Newfoundland, a small mining town near the Quebec border. He said suppliers did not grow enough plants and don’t have enough packaging equipment. “It is the law of supply and demand,” Tobin said.

The shortage threatens to undermine a major aim of legalization: to tame an illegal marijuana trade estimated at about 5.3 billion Canadian dollars annually. Angry consumers are returning to their illegal dealers. In Montreal, several pot smokers said their illegal dealers were taking advantage of the shortage by hawking home delivery services and lowering prices. Retailers, consumers and producers are exasperated by the shortage, which is blamed partly on the unexpected explosion of demand for government-approved marijuana and the slow pace at which the federal government has licensed cannabis producers. Of the 132 producers approved by the government to supply marijuana to retailers, 78 have received sales licenses, says the government department Health Canada. “We are building a new legal industry that wasn’t there three weeks ago, and we knew there would be problems,” said Mathieu Gaudreault of Quebec’s cannabis agency. He said demand had outstripped supply, while licensed producers had overestimated their capacity.