Lethbridge store owners say cannabis supply rising but still not enough
Cannabis supply in Lethbridge may be increasing but not enough to meet demand, according to some store owners.
Since the first retail marijuana store opened in the city in November last year, six more have opened up.
Twenty Four Karats is one of them. Edward Pan, the owner of the store, said he’s seen an increase in the amount of cannabis products and supply since opening.
“In the beginning, we didn’t have much product — we had like eight different types of product, and then we had 16,” he said. “Now we have over 240 SKUs (stock-keeping units) of products, ranging from dry flower to soft gel capsules to edible spray oils.”
Pan said the demand for marijuana continues to outweigh his supply.
“We sell out really quick,” he said.
“I can never keep it full.”
Twenty Four Karats isn’t the only business affected by the national weed shortage. Other retailers applied for licences but never got around to selling marijuana because of Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis’ (AGLC) suspension on issuing new recreational cannabis licensing applications. That moratorium was put in place in November.
The City of Lethbridge approved cannabis licences for 35 retailers since legalization, but only seven of them received a licence from AGLC and are currently operating. Three of the 35 approvals were issued this year, and two retailers have formally informed the city of their withdrawal.
B.O.B. Headquarters, a local store that sells cannabis accessories, received municipal approval and was waiting in queue for a retail licence when AGLC issued the moratorium in November.
After waiting in the queue without any luck, B.O.B. Headquarters decided to move on without the licence.
“We have cancelled our retail cannabis store application, lost a lot of money in the process and are now looking to put the whole experience behind us,” B.O.B. Headquarters told Global News.
“The delays in licensing are devastating to a small business owner trying to pay for a lease on a building that they don’t know when, or if, they will be able to open a business in.”
B.O.B. Headquarters remains open, opting instead to sell cannabis accessories.
Since the suspension in November, AGLC has issued 36 more retail licences to those waiting in queue due to improvements in stock. This brings the total number of licensed cannabis stores in Alberta up to 101, only about 40 per cent of the number of stores that are expected to be open in Alberta by October 2019.
While the AGLC wasn’t able to tell Global News when the moratorium will be lifted, they said additional licensees would be added as supply permits.
Although supply isn’t meeting demand just yet, Pan said he is hopeful.
“I don’t know what the future holds,” he said. “[But I’m] very optimistic, I have faith in AGLC and I have faith in my team to make this work.”
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