Supply problems in the month-old legal cannabis industry could last well into next year.

Boxes of labelled legal cannabisImage copyrightAFP/Getty Images
Image caption Demand for legal cannabis is higher than expected in Canada

Cannabis retailers in Canada began to run low on supplies from the very first day of legalisation a month ago. How long are shortages expected to continue as the new market for recreational cannabis finds its feet?

In the early days of legalisation, James Burns was confident his company had enough product on the shelves of its five new cannabis retail stores, even though they only received half of their order from the provincial supplier.

Now, he has had staff refreshing the government supply website in the early hours to snap up scarce new stock as soon as it’s available, and is considering restricting store hours.

“While there was product to order we were very comfortably getting a large amount of it,” says Burns, the CEO of Alcanna, a company that owns a chain of private liquor stores in Canada and the US and, now, cannabis stores in the province of Alberta.

“But obviously, when there’s literally none there, it doesn’t matter how big you are, there’s just none there. If the government warehouse is empty, it’s empty. There’s nothing you can do.”

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