Licensed weed producers in Canada are hoarding massive amounts of medical marijuana in their inventories in anticipation of selling it on the recreational market. But even these stockpiles won’t likely come close to meeting expected demand once weed becomes legal later this year.
Between April and December 2017, stockpiles of dried marijuana held by Canada’s licensed producers nearly doubled, to about 39,000 kilograms, according to Health Canada statistics. Producers have stashed away just over 11,000 kilograms of Cannabis oil in the same time period—more than double the inventory from eight months earlier.
They are doing so to ensure Canadians have plenty to puff, vape and otherwise consume as of “Day Zero”—the day, as yet undetermined, when doing so for shits and giggles becomes legal in the country for the first time in nearly a century.
The recreational market is massive. A 2016 Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) report said Canadians will consume as much as 1,017 metric tons of the stuff a year. A Deloitte report from the same year said the market value of cannabis – including taxes and tourism-related revenue – could reach $22.6 billion annually.
Fulfilling the demand will be a challenge, however. If the PBO numbers are correct, the current weed stockpile, which sits in vacuumed-packed bliss under lock and key amongst Canada’s 97 licensed producers, would last less than two weeks. “The market is about to explode,” said Jordan Sinclair of Canopy Growth, the largest marijuana producer in the country. The company recently sent 100,000 clones to British Columbia to help meet the demand in that province.
While stocks are unlikely to run completely dry , the relatively low reserves of cannabis will likely lead to shortages of some of the more popular strains in the initial days and weeks of legalization. “Depending on the province, the coverage is going to be spotty. There won’t be enough strains and depth to go around,” says David Hyde, an Ontario-based consultant who advises cannabis growing companies.