Edmonton

No new pot shops, AGLC says in reaction to national shortage

Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis will not issue any new cannabis retail licences “until further notice” because of an ongoing national shortage of product, it said Wednesday.

'Unfortunately, regardless of our efforts, we are seeing the supply of most products run out'

Alberta will not approve any more cannabis retail licences until a national shortage of the product is resolved. (Robert Short/CBC)

Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis says it will not issue any new cannabis retail licences "until further notice" because of an ongoing national shortage of product.

The agency is also temporarily suspending accepting new applications for retail licences, president and CEO Alain Maisonneuve said in a statement Wednesday.

"Since Oct. 17, 2018, cannabis supply levels have remained a concern for licence applicants, retailers and consumers alike," Maisonneuve said.

"This has been the case in Alberta and across Canada."

AGLC ordered enough product to support up to 250 retail stores in the first six months of legalization, but as of Nov. 17 had only received 20 per cent of what it had ordered, Maisonneuve said.

"While some licensed producers have fulfilled their commitments, not all have," he said. 

"Unfortunately, regardless of our efforts, we are seeing the supply of most products run out."

AGLC has tried hard to find additional product, including contacting all federally licensed producers, "but with no success due to the national shortage," Maisonneuve said.

'This is a challenge'

Economic and trade minister Deron Bilous told reporters Wednesday the province has no timeline on when more cannabis will be available.

He said he recognizes this is a challenging time for retail store owners.

"These are Albertans, small business owners that have invested a lot of money and time into this," he said. "This is a challenge that we are working as quickly as we can with producers to try to secure inventory.

"The government of Alberta ordered enough, the challenge has been in the producers to fulfil the orders."

AGLC is now rationing what little cannabis is left to pot shops that are already open. Some product will be available online for consumers in communities that don't yet have any shops open.

Anyone who has applied for a licence will receive a full refund if they choose to withdraw their application, AGLC said.

Karen Barry, founder of Calgary store Beltine Cannabis, said the supply chain issues are of "significant" concern to businesses like hers.

Barry's store still has product in stock. She said she would be "closing her doors now" if she wasn't one of the first nine stores to open in Calgary.

"My heart goes out to those that are in limbo right now," she said. 

"I certainly feel the economic pinch, because I know what I went through to get opened."

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