Canada’s minister of border security and organized crime reduction accused the Ontario government of making excuses after it once again blamed marijuana supply issues for limiting the number of marijuana retail stores.
“With the notable exception of Ontario, the rest of the country has made steady progress in displacing the illicit market with licensed and regulated retail stores,” Bill Blair said in a statement Wednesday. “While the rest of the country made progress, the Ford government made excuses.”
Blair said there is enough cannabis for people who want it in Canada.
He was responding to criticisms the province levelled Wednesday when it announced it will issue up to 50 new private cannabis store licences.
Eight of those 50 will not be part of the lottery, but instead will go to First Nations communities on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Attorney General Doug Downey said the province couldn’t issue more because there are problems with the supply of cannabis coming from Health Canada.
“While the federal supply issues persist, we cannot in good conscience issue an unlimited number of licenses to businesses. A phased-in approach remains necessary,” Downey said.
Finance Minister Rod Phillips also said in the same release that “marginal improvements in national supply” are why the province is able to allow more stores to open.
But in a statement to CBC Kitchener-Waterloo, Blair said, “The data is clear: there remains enough supply to meet and exceed combined retail sales.
“After months of blaming an inept approach on a non-existent supply shortage, the Ontario government finally issued a limited number of licences using a lottery scheme in April,” Blair added.
“It appears that they have finally resolved their issues of mismanagement and are prepared to move forward. We wish them every success.”
Industry ‘catching up’ to demand
A Health Canada spokesperson said in an email more than 300 stores are licensed across the country, and as of June 1, the health agency had approved 135 new licensed producers and 280 expansion requests.
As of June 28, a total of 186 sites have been federally license to cultivate, produce and/or sell cannabis.
Health Canada also reported on supply and demand of cannabis on its website.
The latest numbers are from the end of April, and it notes that at that time, 31,880 kilograms of finished dried cannabisproducts and almost 72,246 litres of finished cannabis oil products were in inventory.