Central Alberta cannabis retailers expect supply issues to improve

More producers being lined up and new products coming

A steady stream of customers made a beeline to the counters at Greentown on Thursday afternoon to peruse the wall-mounted menus.

Cannabis aficionados can pick from exotic-sounding offerings such as kosher kush and casa blanca to comforting chocolate fondue of B.C. sungrown blue.

There is clearly already a healthy market for legalized recreational cannabis and Greentown owner Rob Katzman it is only going to get better as Alberta Gaming Liquor Cannabis (AGLC) irons out early supply problems.

A number of new producers have been signed up said Katzman, who credits AGLC’s cannabis staff for doing their best to improve the supply situation.

“My mother used the say the search for blame is always short,” he said. “Alberta has really tried to do the right thing.

“I have developed a patience and an understanding.”

Katzman can only hazard a guess when all of the supply wrinkles will be smoothed out, but he expects it will take less than a year.

“I have faith and I have confidence that everything is going to be straightened out, and in not that long.”

The supply issues are not only related to quantity. What retailers are able to get and what their customers most want do not always match up.

Katzman said lately retailers are getting a lot more cannabis oil in capsules then they did previously.

“Customers don’t have the same familiarity with capsules and oil like they do with flowers,” he said talking about the smoking form of cannabis that is familiar to most.

“We were really gaining a lot of supply just after Christmas. Then, we started to have trouble in January when supplies went down.

“This is a factor of the industry being so new.”

New products are on their way in the fall and as the cannabis market stabilizes retailers will then be able to take on the black market.

“It’s taken a long time. Unfortunately, a few retailers have been hurt because they can’t get the product.

“But it’s coming.”

Nathan Mison, vice-president of government and stakeholders for Fire and Flower, is also bullish on Alberta’s fledgling cannabis industry.

“We have started to see some betterment of the supply situation in Alberta,” said Mison. “We look forward to seeing not just the 19 producers who are members of the AGLC but more and more coming on line.”

Fire and Flower has an outlet that has proven successful in Stettler and has a location all ready to go in Red Deer once the AGLC begins approving applications again. Given the supply issues, the AGLC took a go-slow approach to issuing licences, placing a moratorium on new licences last November.

Ten were issued in January, bringing the number issued to 75.

Fire and Flower has a successful cannabis retail outlet in Stettler, approved in the first wave. A Red Deer outlet is selling accessories but is ready to go as a full-fledged cannabis retailer as soon as it gets approval. In all, Fire and Flower hopes to have 37 cannabis outlets in Alberta.

Mison said among the new developments this year will be the first harvest of outside-grown cannabis, which will hit the market in the fall. Producers will have the option of using outdoor growth for some products, such as edibles or extracts, allowing greenhouses to be used for flowers.

“Even the outdoor growth could have huge impacts, and that’s in September of this year. It will be interesting to see how that one thing has a significant impact.”

Most in the cannabis business are expecting this year’s under-supply will turn into an over-supply in 2020.

“So, it will be interesting to see what happens when it goes from famine to feast.”



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

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