Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Canada’s most-awarded
newsroom for a reason
Stay informed for a
lot less, cancel anytime
“Exemplary reporting on
COVID-19” – Herman L
per week
for 24 weeks
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

People check out the sample counter at a cannabis store in Winnipeg, Man., on Wednesday, October 17, 2018. Marijuana is now legal in Canada.

John Woods/The Canadian Press

Available now: Cannabis Professional, the authoritative e-mail newsletter tailored specifically for professionals in the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Subscribe now.

Part of cannabis and small business and retail

Provinces are pushing cannabis producers to speed up shipments after consumers lined up and cleaned out much of retailers’ inventory on the first day of legal recreational sales in Canada.

Amid celebrations across the country on Wednesday, websites and stores sold out of many brands and strains in hours as customers endured lengthy lines to be a part of the historic day.

Story continues below advertisement

Licensed producers are “obviously really trying to be good partners to the various provincial regulators, but we’re not meeting expectations. Nobody is,” said Vic Neufeld, chief executive of Leamington, Ont.-based grower Aphria Inc., adding that supply issues will likely plague the industry for several months in part due to a lack of consumer data. He said the industry needs two years of data to really understand the cycle of forecasting.

Warning signs of a supply shortage had been mounting in the weeks leading up to Wednesday’s legalization, sparking worries that the debut of pot sales might be bumpy. Earlier this month, four provincial distributors said growers had shipped fewer products than expected, so consumers would have fewer choices.

The situation could have been worse on Wednesday if more bricks-and-mortar stores had opened in time. British Columbia, for example, only had one storefront open on Wednesday, Alberta was slated to have fewer than two dozen, and Quebec was expected to open 12 outlets. Ontario had none, relying only on online sales.

“We’ve have had jurisdictions contacting us for additional product,” says Greg Engel, CEO of New Brunswick-based OrganiGram Inc. “We’ve got [purchase orders] for delivery dates through now until December, and in a few cases, we’ve had provinces contact us … asking if we can move this one forward, can you accelerate this or when’s the earliest we can get this one?”

In Ontario, the products disappeared from the province’s online store as they quickly sold out. By noon, only one product made by Canopy Growth Corp. – one of the country’s largest growers – was still listed on the site of the Ontario Cannabis Store: a 3.5-gram bottle of DNA Genetics-branded flower called Lemon Skunk, going for $44.15.

Canopy CEO Bruce Linton said his company has 100,000 more units of cannabis to send to distributors across the country in the next week, with shipments planned each business day through at least Monday. On Wednesday, it shipped more cannabis to Ontario’s provincial warehouse.

Meanwhile, British Columbia saw similar activity on Wednesday. Shortly after 9 a.m., 48 of 97 available flower products were sold out on the B.C. cannabis online store.

Story continues below advertisement

Daffyd Roderick, spokesman for the Ontario Cannabis Store, declined to provide details on how the province estimated demand and ordered from the licensed producers. "We’re going to have new product calls and be bringing new product in on an ongoing basis. … It’s a continuous process, so as product becomes available they continue to fill.”

He said OCS will provide sales data as they’re “verified and available.” Mr. Roderick said in the event of a Canada Post strike, which its union members are threatening by Monday, OCS is evaluating alternative options for deliveries.

By late afternoon, a warning for buyers appeared at the top of the OCS website in red font: “Expect your order to be delivered within three to five business days.” The OCS had been targeting a delivery time of one to three days.

BC Liquor Distribution Branch spokeswoman Viviana Zanocco said the BC Cannabis Store was facing shortages, but added that product was “constantly coming in.”

“We’re out of capsules online,” Ms. Zanocco said. “I think we expected that, some of the [licensed producers] couldn’t get enough to us online. But we expect to receive more shortly.”

In Newfoundland, where the first Canadian legal sale occurred at 12 a.m. on Wednesday, health-and-wellness store Healthy Vibe turned away hundreds of people, owner Megan Kennedy said. While some products were still available on Wednesday morning, most of the marijuana-flower products were sold out.

Story continues below advertisement

"It’s every business owner’s nightmare,” Ms. Kennedy said. “I’m hoping more will show up today or tomorrow.”

Trevor Fencott, CEO of Edmonton cannabis retailer Fire & Flower, said it was able on Wednesday to keep its three stores in Alberta and two in Saskatchewan stocked despite lineups around the block, with hundreds of people in line. Currently, Fire & Flower is carrying about 80 types of products in its Alberta stores rather than the 300 it would like to stock, he said.

Shopify Inc., which provides the technology for four provincial online stores in Ontario, B.C., Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island as well as a number of private retailers across the country, said it had seen millions of visitors placing tens of thousands of orders in the first 12 hours.

Spokeswoman Sheryl So said the company expects hundreds of thousands of orders in the first 24 hours and “millions” when the first week of legal sales concludes. There were 100 transactions a minute in the early hours of sales on Wednesday, Ms. So said. Shopify technology is used by sellers Tweed, Delta 9 and Jimmy’s in Saskatchewan, which were live on Wednesday, and Hiku and Manitoba’s NAC, which were scheduled to go live this week.

“I think people were originally wondering whether there’d be sales without stores,” said Mike Gorenstein, CEO at licensed producer Cronos Group Inc. “And what you’re seeing is e-commerce is pretty powerful.”

A Tweed store, owned by Aurora rival Canopy, in St. John’s said it did not receive an order of expected Aurora product for Day 1.

Story continues below advertisement

Cam Battley, chief corporate officer at Aurora Cannabis Inc., said his company’s product was available on Wednesday in 11 provinces and territories, but “we had to make some supply priority decisions. And understandably, a branded store belonging to a competitor was not at the very top of our priority list.”

While consumers demand for cannabis was strong, investor desire on Wednesday for the companies’ shares was not. Many pot stocks hit all-time highs on Tuesday, the day before legalization, then fell sharply in early trading on Wednesday. But most stocks quickly pared their losses and finished the trading day down just slightly. Several gained moderately, with Aphria closing up 3.8 per cent.

With reports from Marina Strauss, Rob Gilroy and David Ebner

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the authors of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies