Nfld. & Labrador

No weed at Tweed stores in N.L., other retailers in the province also out of product

"A lot of the people walk out of here and say, 'Oh, I guess it's back to the black market.'"

Thomas Clarke says he received just 20% of what he ordered and customers are complaining about quality

Thomas Clarke posted this picture to Facebook on Sunday. The logo on his shirt is based on logo for Tweed, Canopy's retail brand. (Thomas Clarke/Facebook)

Retailers across Newfoundland, and the lone legal cannabis retail store in Labrador, are seeing red about the non-existent supply of green. 

"I know I'm only a little guy in Portugal Cove who's an independent … but I don't like the service I'm receiving," Thomas Clarke, owner of THC Distribution in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's, told CBC News on Saturday.

Clarke said he ordered and paid for just over $66,000 worth of cannabis from Canopy Growth to be ready for legalization last week, but received just under 20 per cent of the product he'd requested.

His store sold out of product just after 4 p.m. on Oct. 17, and he said Canopy told him he won't be getting any new product until Tuesday or Wednesday this week.

Clarke's shop in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's ran out of product early in the afternoon on the first day of legalization. (Ryan Cooke/CBC)

"It's hard when I have all my customers coming down here today looking for cannabis and I don't have anything to give them," he said. 

Tweed stores are out of cannabis products, too, officials confirmed late Monday afternoon, with more expected to arrive Tuesday.

Canopy Growth signed a two-year deal with the government of Newfoundland and Labrador to be a supplier for the province. The deal includes the potential for $40 million in tax breaks for the company, and a promise to build a production facility in the province, with construction starting in 2019.

The Natural Vibe on Water Street in St. John's is also playing the waiting game, much to its chagrin. 

"It's extremely frustrating. I think one of the biggest parts is we placed quite big orders with a lot of different companies. We've received probably not even half of that," said Megan Kennedy, co-owner of the store.

"We set up everything else in our store and then the one thing that we need to actually make sales, we don't actually have."

Megan Kennedy says her store, the Natural Vibe in St. John's, has received half of the supply it has ordered. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

She said suppliers tell her more is coming at a certain time, but then the products don't show up. 

Labrador out, too

High North — Labrador's only current legal cannabis retailer — has also run dry. 

The store sold out of its entire stock within the first three hours of opening at 4:20 p.m. on Oct. 17. 

Brenda Tobin, who co-owns the store with her son, Trevor, said she is trying to stay patient, but she feels business is literally walking out the door.

"We don't know what to be telling the customers," she told CBC News on Monday.

"A lot of the people walk out of here and say, 'Oh, I guess it's back to the black market.'"

Brenda and Trevor Tobin stand in front of their new sign on Oct 17. They ran out of products three hours after opening. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Trevor Tobin echoes his mother's concerns.

"We are almost losing money day to day," he said.  

"We don't know when the product is going to arrive, so we need to keep our staff on hand, but yet there is no sales."

Complaints from customers about product quality

Clarke has another beef — those who did manage to buy cannabis from his store in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's before it sold out have also been complaining about the quality.

Customers have told him that the product was dry and seemed very old, he said, and that some of the weights were off.

"I think a lot of people are going to have a bad taste in their mouth after this," he said. 

"I hope that the licensed producers get their act together, or the black market wins. If the black market has a cheaper price and a better quality, nobody's going to come to my shop."

Clarke predicted his store would run out of product by Friday but it didn't last even that long. (Caroline Hiller/CBC)

Canopy calls demand 'impressive'

CBC News contacted Canopy Growth for an interview Monday morning, but instead received an emailed statement.

On the issue of quality complaints, Jordan Sinclair, the company's vice-president of communications, said, "The weight of cannabis in the jars is regulated and checked."

Sinclair did not respond directly to complaints about the quality of the product but said the company looks forward to opening its local production facility outside of St. John's.

A cannabis production at a Canopy Growth Corporation facility in Ontario. (Canopy Growth Corp.)

As for store owners not having products to sell, another Canopy spokesperson, Caitlin O'Hara, said in a separate email that the demand in Newfoundland has been "impressive."

"We're doing everything in our power to get product on the shelves. This week alone we will be shipping over 100,000 units across the country," she said. 

"Our employees are working incredibly hard to ensure our plants are thriving and our products are being shipped to fulfil the high demand."

With files from Stephen Miller and Jeremy Eaton

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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