The continued cannabis shortages in Canada could prevent some entrepreneurs from setting up shop anytime soon in Alberta.
The provincial government is putting a temporary pause on licensing cannabis retailers in Alberta. With the ongoing, country-wide supply shortage of cannabis, the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) says it could be a while before they add another retailer to the list of 65 licensed stores.
"We could get a huge amount of supply in six months, or it could be 18 months—it's a huge flux time," AGLC spokesperson Kaleigh Miller told Calgary Herald. "Hopefully in the middle of that time, we'll see a more normalized industry and supply…it's out of our hands."
And while the province says they can't supply any more stores right now without hurting the ones that are already operating, the pause is a big blow to those hoping to get into business.
"It's tantamount to shutting down businesses," said one aspiring retailer from Calgary. "I want to keep on with this but I don't know how long it’ll be before my money runs out."
The pause could also see Alberta lose ground to its provincial rivals.
"A halt on new licenses would essentially leapfrog Ontario ahead of us from an investment perspective as they will start issuing retail licenses starting April," said the Alberta Cannabis Collective - an industry association for marijuana retailers. "This means that investment dollars, jobs, and tax revenue we expected to see in Alberta will be diverted to Ontario."
Even if supply does level out in the coming months, Miller says the introduction of Ontario's private cannabis retailer system in April will exacerbate the supply problem by seeing another slew of stores competing for the limited amount of cannabis products. That means consumers and entrepreneurs across the country may be unable to reliable get legal cannabis for sometime to come.