Cannabis supply going fast in Calgary, may not last until next order: Its going to be pretty close

Cannabis supply going fast in Calgary, may not last until next order: \It\s going to be pretty close\
AGLC expects tight cannabis supply as more Calgary stores set to open
The lines started at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning at both Calgary’s cannabis stores. By the time the doors opened at 10 a.m. at Four20 Premium Market and Nova Cannabis, around 100 people were in line at each outlet.

“Pretty shocked that it would still be here on day four,” said Dale Belcher, who was waiting in line at Nova Cannabis.

On Friday, the doors at Four20 Premium Market were shut four hours early because of noise concerns from neighbours. The store had been open until 2 a.m. since opening day on Wednesday.

In some ways, its familiar territory for the province. Alberta privatized its liquor stores in the early 1990s, and the result has been a proliferation of retail shops, from large chains to tiny beer and wine corner stores — all run by private businesses. A government agency handles importing and wholesale as the province gained a reputation for having an extensive selection of beer, wines and spirits, especially compared with other provinces. The same approach — and the same bureaucracy — has been brought to legal cannabis. Private retailers, however, are still warning about near-term shortages.

“On the police side, there haven’t been any complaints or issues,” said Ryan Kaye, Four20 Premium Market vice-president of operations. “There were some concerns from a few neighbours about the noise level after 10 p.m. so we decided to temporarily go from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“We will be closing at 10 p.m. for now and it’s just to be a good community partner until these lineups die down.”

The citys other crisis – the one thats killing people – is the struggle against the fentanyl epidemic. The three leading contenders in the election acknowledge the situation is urgent, but the city has few tools beyond the ones it is using. Andrea Woo has frequently reported on the consensus among mental health experts that decriminalization is a necessary step. But independent candidate Kennedy Stewart was frank in saying its a non-starter with Ottawa. And NPA candidate Ken Sim was unclear on the difference between decriminalization and legalization.

Management at Four20 predicted that Saturday had the potential to be a big sales day because of people coming in from out of town. There are no cannabis stores in rural southern Alberta except in Medicine Hat.

The city of Calgary is hoping to speed up the appeals process for new pot shops but staff at Four20 Premium Market are not laying the blame on the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission or the city for the lack of stores now open in Calgary.

 “You don’t have a multi-billion-dollar industry spring up overnight. It’s just not a realistic expectation,” Kaye said. “We just need a little more time to get more stores open.”

B.C. CIVIC ELECTION: British Columbians go to the polls Saturday to elect mayors and councils, but voters in Vancouver have the most bewildering array of choices. With 158 names on the ballot for 27 positions, with the traditional two parties in splinters and with an at-large system, what Vancouver Council looks like by the time the results are in is anyones guess. One thing is certain, though: Leafy neighbourhoods with exclusively single-family homes will change as all candidates for mayor advocate higher density.

“We might make it to our next order or we might be a day short,”he said. “It’s really hard to say right now. It’s going to be pretty close.”

STEPHEN GALLOWAY: The University of British Columbia is having to pay author Stephen Galloway another $60,000 for breaching the confidentiality requirements of an arbitrated settlement he won following his firing from the school. The UBC Faculty Association, which worked on Mr. Galloways behalf, was awarded $15,000. When added to the money Mr. Galloway was given under the original settlement, the school has had to pay out more than $240,000 over its handling of the allegations against the former department head.

At least two Edmonton area outlets have already run out of product. Nova Cannabis, which operates in both Calgary and Edmonton, predicts it will have enough product because of the large order it put in the first opportunity it had with AGLC.

THE LIBRARY BOOK: Author Susan Orlean writes the library is where we can glimpse immortality. But she tells Marsha Lederman that she seriously questioned her longevity as a book author seven years ago. That changed with a trip to Los Angeles Central library and the horrifying discovery of a fire there in 1986 that wiped out untold treasures. Marsha writes how the place – the library – became the storytelling tool of a crime mystery, but also the history of the city and even dementia.

“For cannabis you have to pay cash and we can’t do it on credit so you have to have money in the bank to do it,” explained James Burns, CEO of Alcanna, the parent company of Nova.

If elections are a healthy way to hit the reset button, nowhere will that cleanse be more welcome than in Nanaimo. Justine Hunter dropped in on the Vancouver Island city, where residents have watched in horror and embarrassment during the last several years as the council chamber came to resemble a cage match, with a chair-throwing incident, an invitation to the mayor to bite me and RCMP investigations. The mayor isnt running again and no one is more relieved than he is.

“But we have a large company and were able to purchase, so we placed as big of an order as they let us.”

Meanwhile, stores that haven’t been able to open yet say a lack of supply is part of the problem.

Despite the lack of legal retail outlets in neighbouring B.C., there are still places to buy cannabis. The provinces online mail-order store is up and running, and many dispensaries have continued to operate, unabated. Police departments and provincial inspectors have not staged any widespread enforcement. The local RCMP detachment in Port Alberni raided two illegal dispensaries on Wednesday, which appears to be the only crackdown on the day the drug became legal.

A shortage of stock on the AGLC’s retailer website has created a bumpy road for yet-to-be-open stores like Beltline Cannabis Calgary.

Barry says staff at AGLC contacted her on Saturday to let her know she could now make an order. She said that she wasn’t able to on Friday because of lack of supply on the AGLC retailer website.

“I got a call Saturday at noon from the AGLC saying: ‘We should have some product there,’ that as soon as that product comes in, it’s being processed and put up on their website for retailers to access. What that means for us, we’re not quite sure and we are checking by the hour,” said Barry.

Dwight Newman on the Indigenous consultation and the Supreme Court: “This is not the first time the court has evaded making a clear decision in the context of Indigenous rights. Indeed, judges in past decisions have expressed a preference that matters be resolved by negotiation, and thus would effectively leave some details of aboriginal law issues undecided to permit this. “

Barry said she has all her staffing and licensing in place and hopes to have her store open by Nov. 1.

Lineups continued over the weekend at Nova Cannabis on Macleod Trail after the legalization of recreational cannabis on Oct. 17, 2018. Al Charest/Postmedia

AGA KHAN GARDEN: The Aga Khan was in Edmonton for the inauguration of the Aga Khan Garden at the University of Albertas botanical gardens. The garden, which has 25,000 plants, 120 fruit trees, 12 water features and more than 650 tonnes of granite and polished limestone, is designed to be a place for contemplation.

Alberta’s cannabis supply will be stretched to meet the demands of dozens of new stores expected to open in the coming weeks, says the provincial regulator.

"So, that's been causing some issues for us, between 10 and two we're really busy and we're starting to affect the community, and not in the manner that we'd like," he said.

Shortages should be expected as the retail capacity, which includes eight more stores in Calgary, expands, said Heather Holmen, spokeswoman for Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis.

Jeff Mooij at Four20 Premium Market — which had been staying open until 2 a.m. — will scale back its hours to close at 10 p.m. after receiving some noise complaints from nearby residents.

“Some licensed (cannabis) producers are feeling the pinch, it’s a very tough situation,” Holmen said Friday.

“There’s a set amount of product we have on hand, some of it is sold out but we’re working with the licensed producers on fulfilling their obligations.

Burns says he's not allowed to move product between his stores, as he could in the case of liquor outlets. But he expects to be able to restock some items early next week.

Retailers in Calgary have been mobbed by crowds since weed went legal Wednesday, ending 95 years of marijuana prohibition in Canada.

James Burns, CEO of Alcanna Inc., which owns seven shops across Alberta including Nova Cannabis in southwest Calgary, says demand for the newly-legal product has been brisk.

While emphasizing the AGLC still has supply to provide stores, “we’re aware of the high demand,” said Holmen.

"You can't predict demand, can you? So, if it stays as busy as it is, it might get close by Sunday night. But we think we should be in good shape," he said.

Karen Barry said she fears her store won’t be receiving marijuana flower and oils in time for a tentative Nov. 1 opening of her Beltline Cannabis Calgary shop.

He says there have been steady lineups since Wednesday, with one strain of pot selling out an hour and a half after the doors first opened at the Calgary store.

While able to log on to the AGLC’s retailers’ website, Barry said she’s seen available only a “negligible” amount of product.

“I’ve got 19 staff ready to go, people’s livelihoods are on the line, paying rents, mortgages,” she said.

“It’s challenging when you’re ready, willing and able to go and have done all the regulatory hoops.”

She noted the AGLC is still selling cannabis products on its online portal while she waits to see if she’ll have inventory.

“I want to be positive … you would give the AGLC the benefit of the doubt that they’re being as fair and transparent as they can be,” said Barry.

Beltline Cannabis Calgary owner Karen Barry is hoping to open her 12th Avenue S.W. store soon. She was photographed outside the store on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018.

Later, on Saturday afternoon, Barry said she was “hopeful” she’d be able to acquire inventory from retailers’ website.

Of 93 cannabis products listed on the AGLC’s website, 37 were out of stock on Saturday, though Holmen said some of those sold-out varieties should be replenished soon.

She also said the commission remains committed to private merchants and their customers, despite the optics of being a retailer and regulator.

“Our premium concern is definitely the retailers and I wouldn’t expect there to be much empathy — we’re a government agency,” she said.

Managers of the two operating Calgary stores — Nova Cannabis Willow Park and Four20 Premium Market — say they’ll have enough product to tide over customers until they receive another shipment, likely in the coming week.

But Four20’s Ryan Kaye has voiced concerns shortages could spread if many stores are quickly added to the market.

Holmen said there’s likely been some packaging hiccups in the supply chain but added the wholly unprecedented roll-out of legalization and its retail component has proven a challenge.

“The capacity constraints come from how quickly we went from an idea to fruition — we’re pedal to the metal,” she said.

If all goes well, retail chain NewLeaf Cannabis could quickly become the most prolific store in Calgary, with three locations recently receiving interim AGLC licences.

Map below shows applicants which have been granted a released development permit and are awaiting approval from AGLC: