“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.
“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.”
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.”
“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.”
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.
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“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.
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“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.
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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
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.
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.
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: