Canada’s Legal Market Struggles To Keep Up With Demand And Quality

Licensed producers quality and supply is below neighborhood dealers

When Melissa, a resident of Halifax, Nova Scotia, went to one of Canada’s first government cannabis stores, she wasn’t impressed. “You can’t look at what they have. You can’t smell the product,” she said. “It’s too expensive.” And so she, like tens of thousand of other Canadians, went back to their old habits: buying from neighbourhood dealers.

Six months after Canada became the first G7 country to legalise marijuana, the bold experiment is still struggling to get off the ground. Legal producers were unable to meet the sudden surge in demand, and struggled for weeks to fill orders, leaving marijuana stores with empty shelves. As a result, the vast majority of cannabis sales in the country – roughly $5bn – are made on the illegal markets, compared to $2bn in legal sales, according to government figures from January 2019.

Ahead of legalization, the prime minister, Justin Trudeau, had argued that the move would nearly eliminate the black market, which he said funnelled money into organized crime. But with so little cannabis to sell, licensed operators across the country have had to turn away potential customers, sending them instead to the black market.

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