Quebec cannabis stores to close 3 days a week due to chronic shortages
New hours reflect problems keeping stock since pot became legal for recreational use
Quebec's government-run cannabis stores have announced that as of Monday their opening hours will be trimmed due to the chronic shortages the shops have experienced since marijuana became legal.
The Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) outlets will no longer be open Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays.
Montreal stores sold out of stock by noon at least two days this week. Of the 12 cannabis stores in Quebec, three of them are in Montreal.
The SQDC said in a release that the new hours will be in effect until the "availability of products is stabilized."
It went on to say the decision to close the stores will consolidate stock deliveries and mean more efficient customer service on the days the stores are open.
The closures, however, do not guarantee that there won't still be stock shortages, the SQDC said. That will depend on producers and suppliers.
Online sales continue, although some products have been listed out of stock for more than a week, including pre-rolled joints and oils that require additional production.
The agency said earlier this week that supplying its stores has proved more difficult than foreseen, with an unnamed employee telling La Presse Canadienne on Wednesday that the entire inventory of the store on Ste-Catherine Street was sold out.
The scarcity of stock is something the SQDC says customers will likely have to put up with for months to come.
'We're producing as fast as we can'
Quebec has a number of regulated cannabis suppliers, including Aurora Cannabis, which has operations across the country, including a production facility in Pointe-Claire.
Andrea Paine, national director of government relations for Aurora Cannabis, told CBC Montreal's Daybreak that she isn't surprised by the high volume of demand.
"You can't make plants grow faster than they grow. We're producing as fast as we can," she said.
A company spokesperson told CBC's Daybreak on Friday that the company fulfilled its order to the SQDC, but later contacted CBC News to say it had "substantially completed" the order, but fell short of completing it entirely.
"Launching a new industry is complex, and not without obstacles. Every licensed producer in Canada is having to contend with the same issues, and working within government regulations in order to get more product to market quickly," spokesperson Heather MacGregor wrote in a statement.
Legault weighs in
Quebec Premier François Legault said Friday that he was surprised to hear that the stores had run out of product, but pointed out that it wasn't his government that set up the system.
He has pledged to raise the legal age of consumption in Quebec from 18 to 21.
"I am very worried about the impact cannabis consumption has on young people, and I think it's important the controls are put in place by a public body," he said.
Amélie Rivard lined up at the cannabis store on Ste-Catherine Street Friday afternoon. This is the third time she's gone to try and buy a specific strain of marijuana with no success.
"It's really hard right now for us to get legal weed," she said.
Officials at the SQDC have declined repeated requests from CBC to be interviewed about the shortages.
With files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak, Verity Stevenson and La Presse Canadienne.
- An earlier version of this story said that Aurora Cannabis was able to fulfill the order made by the SQDC. CBC News was erroneously told this information by a company spokesperson.Oct 26, 2018 10:01 PM ET