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HIGHLIGHTS
  1. Alberta pot retailers access high-CBD oils for first time in months
  2. High-CBD oil supplies inconsistent since October 2018 in Alberta
  3. Organigram shipped 130,000 bottles of high-CBD across Canada

After months of turning away customers seeking high-CBD oils and capsules, cannabis retail stores in Alberta are receiving shipments of one of their most sought-after items after a handful of licensed producers ramped up supplies seven months after recreational pot was legalized.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-intoxicating compound extracted from cannabis and hemp that is associated with health and wellness effects, with many consuming it to reduce conditions such as anxiety, inflammation and pain. Retailers say it is one of the main products customers seek at pot shops, with some ranking it among the top three items alongside high-THC dried flower and pre-rolls.

But for months, retail customers seeking high-CBD cannabis have only been able to buy it in dried flower form, which must either be smoked or vaporized. Many customers who take CBD for health reasons prefer to ingest oil or capsules rather than inhale it, which has a faster reaction time but raises negative health associations.

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“It’s a good amount of high-CBD [oils] stock for the first time this year,” said Rob Cherry, vice-president and head merchant for Fire and Flower, referring to supplies available to the company’s nine licensed stores in Alberta.

“I think customers in Alberta have become accustomed to recreational stores not having high CBD oils so they may have gone the medical route and got prescriptions from their doctor.”

Mr. Cherry said there has “been a smattering” of available high-CBD oils and capsules in recent months, but last week was the first time the retail chain was able to make a large purchase from the province’s sole wholesaler Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC).

“It’s definitely an encouraging sign to see this much supply on the market. It would indicate that, yes, there will be more CBD on the market on a more constant basis. Would I bet my house on that? Absolutely not,” Mr. Cherry said.

Fire and Flower also has six stores in Saskatchewan, where high-CBD oil products have been tight, and has partnerships with two stores in Ontario, where supplies are not as tight due to the small number of cannabis retailers that remain below 20. Alberta has the biggest number of recreational pot stores by far at 101.

Other retailers said that last week was the first time in months they were able to order high-CBD oils and capsules from “a few” LPs for deliveries scheduled this week, with next week’s orders even higher, a sign that growers are ramping up supplies.

“We have not seen consistent CBD since October 2018. There was some high-CBD oil out of the gate that sold really fast and we haven’t seen it consistent since then,” said Grant Sanderson, regional manager for Alcanna Inc.’s Nova Cannabis stores.

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Adult-use pot was legalized in October 2018.

Each of the eight Nova stores in Alberta will receive roughly 20 cases (approximately 24 bottles each) of high-CBD oil this week, compared with just a couple available cases most recently available six to eight weeks ago.

“Next week we’re going to double this week’s amount,” Mr. Sanderson said.

AGLC did not provide sales volume data, but the government agency has increased its number of suppliers to 26 LPs from 15 last year.

“As a result of inconsistent supply, we may not have the same product day-to-day, let alone week-to-week, so there’s no way to guarantee when or what product will be available and for how long,” said Heather Holmen, AGLC spokeswoman.

“We continue to work with our current and prospective licensed producers to secure more product.”

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Organigram Holdings Inc. said on Wednesday it shipped more than 130,000 bottles of pure CBD oil across Canada.

“While medical patients have long since discovered the potential benefits of CBD, we didn't anticipate how that awareness would translate into the recreational market but are pleased to be able to help meet this consumer demand,” said Greg Engel, chief executive of Organigram.

Organigram has a long-term agreement with 1812 Hemp in New Brunswick that gave the LP access to roughly 6,000 kilograms of dried hemp flower from last year’s harvest that was extracted in early 2019, the company said.

Organigram also has a cannabis extraction contract with Valens GroWorks Corp., and this concentrate will be used to make edible and vaporizable products when derivative-based products are expected to be legalized in Canada later this year.

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