British Columbia

Buyers can't be choosers: Legal B.C. weed supply available but selection likely limited

The B.C. government says there will be enough legal cannabis available to meet demand starting Oct. 17, but admits selection may be limited.

Province says supply will meet demand by legalization date but no guarantees on different varieties

Mature cannabis plants photographed at a legal marijuana greenhouse. (The Canadian Press)

The B.C. government says there will be enough legal cannabis available to meet demand starting on Oct. 17 but admits selection may be limited.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says he has received assurances from the staff at the British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch that B.C. will have a sufficient supply of the newly legal product.

But it could take time for a selection of different varieties of cannabis to be consistently available in the retail market, he said.

"As when you buy wines from the Okanagan, some wines have very large productions and may have two or three thousand cases of wine. Other wines may only be 100 cases," he said.

The potential shortages are linked to the fact that some legal marijuana producers are still establishing operations, and that there is uncertainty over demand in a new market, Farnworth added.

"As I've said all along, this is something that's going to take a few years to get a full retail system and that also applies to production as well, which as you all know is controlled by the federal government."

The potential lack of variety will push people to continue to use marijuana dispensaries that are not legal under the new regime, said Ted Smith from the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, a long-running compassion club.

Providing a variety of types of cannabis is important because some people are looking for product that contains CBD, a compound derived from the plant that doesn't get people stoned, rather than strains that are high in THC, he said.

"Many people are seeking out these particular types of strains and it's highly doubtful the government would have enough of that in their store."

Despite the challenges on the supply side, Farnworth said he expects B.C. will still provide the largest selection of legal marijuana in the country.

The government's first and only B.C. Cannabis Store is set to open in Kamloops on Oct. 17.

More locations are expected to follow in the coming months with over 100 paid applications in the provincial system.

The province is also hoping to launch an online sales platform to ensure people can purchase non-medical cannabis regardless of where they live.

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