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Canadians welcome legal pot sales, put up with supply issues on opening day.|
It appears Canadians will have to be patient before a full array of products are available
CBC News · Posted: Oct 17, 2018 3:19 PM ET
There were no major hiccups reported in the first few hours of legal recreational marijuana sales at retail locations across Canada on Wednesday, though there were signs that supply could become an issue at both shops and online points of sale.
A mix of private and government-run shops opened across the country, offering a variety of products. Canada is the largest country to legalize recreational use — under various conditions.
Potential supply issues had been predicted. Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries had warned of "substantially less cannabis than originally requested," and shortages for some products that could last months.
Bruce Linton, CEO of private supplier Canopy Growth Corp., told CBC News that there was too much unknown about the market right now to risk a glut of unused supply, while not yet being nimble enough to meet demand for the most popular products.
Public opinion surveys have indicated that price, variety and potency could also affect how Canadians ultimately take to the Liberal government's pot gamble, but Sean Malthouse, a customer in St. John's, predicted supply issues could be the biggest turnoff.
"These guys are running out of a lot of stuff here already and if that happens, people are going to go back — the dealers are never going to do away if you can't supply," he said.
At the Tweed shop in St. John's, diehards showed up before midnight to take advantage of the two-hour window before the mandatory closure at 2 a.m. NT. The store estimated it sold about $9,000 worth of product in that window before reopening after sunrise.
The Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. also tried to temper expectations before the rollout, indicating not all products would be available. Joints and loose-leaf cannabis were on sale, with seeds and cannabis oil to come at a later date.
Ottawa has framed the liberalization of pot as a way to put a dent into the billions of dollars exchanged through the illicit market.
Border Security Minister Bill Blair allowed that the previous state of affairs "will not change overnight," but he said it was an important day.
"Illegal production and distribution remain serious criminal offences, but today for the first time there's competition in the marketplace," he said Wednesday.
"For the first time, adult Canadians who choose to consume cannabis have a safer, lower risk, healthier and more socially responsible choice."