Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis — the provincial regulator for retail cannabis — said Wednesday it’s only received 20 per cent of the product it ordered and expected from licensed producers.
“Since Oct. 17, 2018, cannabis supply levels have remained a concern for licence applicants, retailers and consumers alike,” AGLC president Alain Maisonneuve said in a news release. “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; however, as of Nov. 17 we have only received approximately 20 per cent of what we had ordered.
“While some licensed producers have fulfilled their commitments, not all have,” Maisonneuve said. “We continue to work with them to fill stock. Unfortunately, regardless of our efforts, we are seeing the supply of most products run out.”
The AGLC said it is temporarily suspending accepting new applications and won’t issue any additional cannabis retail licences until further notice.
“All applicants in various stages of the licensing process will receive a full refund of all licensing fees should they wish to withdraw from the licensing application process,” Maisonneuve said.
The Alberta website says there are currently 65 licensed cannabis retailers across the province.
Watch below – Nov. 14, 2018: Alberta is changing the way it distributes cannabis to businesses after some retailers complained they can’t buy any pot while their competitors can. Fletcher Kent reports.
Phil Hulmes, the president of My Marijuana Store, applied for a licence back in April. He was expecting to open his three locations on Dec. 15 but now, that’s on hold. Hulmes was given no indication when he might be allowed to open or have product to sell.
“That’s the most frustrating part,” he said. “You expect things to not rollout how you expect them to and for there to be hiccups along the way — you have to plan for that — but a cost that’s unknown? How do you plan for that?”
Hulmes found out about the AGLC halting new licences through Global News.
He’s concerned because he and his partners have already invested everything in this business.
“Licensing fees are just a small part of the cost,” Hulmes said, explaining they’ve already paid municipal fees, rent and renovations.
“The costs get into the tens of thousands of dollars very quickly for one single location and we have three.
“At this point if you’ve invested all of your personal money — we’re talking retirements, everything, it’s in there. We’ve mortgaged, we’ve leveraged absolutely everything we possibly can — there’s no turning back now.”
Inspectors told Hulmes Wednesday they’ll continue with the process, his application will go in a queue and once AGLC lifts the suspension, licences will be approved on a first-come-first-served basis.
Since recreational cannabis became legal across Canada on Oct. 17, there have been reports of shortages as well as long lines at shops and an incredibly competitive demand for retailers trying to order product online through AGLC.
The regulator is also Alberta’s sole legal online retailer for cannabis.
“For the first few weeks, AGLC has taken steps to secure additional product, contacting all producers with federal licences to sell cannabis, but with no success due to the national shortage,” Maisonneuve said.
“Licensed producers are working with Health Canada to receive their licences and increase the amount of product available across the country.”
The Cannabis Council of Canada represents licensed producers. Executive Director Allan Rewak admits there’s been production issues with this new, complex industry.
“We have faced some logistical challenges during the initial rollout which has challenged order fulfillment to our provincial partners.
“Licensed producers are working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We’ve seen a lot of those hiccups overcome and I think we’ll see supply improve in the very near future,” he said.
Rewak said some of the challenges were connected to packaging requirements, the supply chain regime, the application and automation of excise stamps.
“We’ve had some failures but we’re scaling up, we’re speeding up and we’re getting product out the door.”
He said licensed producers have zero complaints and zero frustrations with the AGLC.
“I’ve got to say, AGLC has been a fabulous partner to licensed producers and to the sector,” Rewak said.
“Alberta has first-mover advantage and has one of the most developed retail systems in the country at this point. We want to encourage its further growth and development.”
AGLC said its priority is to ensure private Alberta retailers are supported.
“We will continue to allocate the majority of our scarce inventory to private retailers. We will still maintain some online product to allow consumers in communities where there are not any retail stores to purchase online.”
AGLC said it will continue to work with licensed producers on production and shipping timelines. It will also be meeting with all current retailers to discuss the current situation.
“On behalf of AGLC, I thank everyone for their continued patience while we work through the national shortage of legal cannabis,” Maisonneuve said.
As of 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, albertacannabis.org had only 20 of its 146 products listed as available — as opposed to out of stock.
Watch below – OCt. 29, 2018: As cannabis shortages continue across Canada, even the AGLC’s website has almost nothing available for buyers. As Fletcher Kent reports, some say the supply chain needs to be fixed.