Some people involved in Canada's unregulated cannabis industry say, unless something changes quickly, the supply of available pot come legalization next July, will be inadequate, and the black market will continue to thrive.
In British Columbia, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth announced Monday the public would be consulted on some of the upcoming rules around marijuana in the province, including distribution, age and possession limits. But Farnworth noted the issue of supply, though critical to ending the black market, is in the hands of the federal government.
According to longtime activist and dispensary director Dana Larsen, the amount of quality marijuana available from licensed suppliers is far too low to meet current demands, not to mention the demands of a legal recreational market.
"The legally licensed producers, there's not enough of them. They're not growing enough cannabis. They're not allowed to produce half the products we sell in our dispensary, so they're inadequate to meet the demand that's out there," said Larsen, whose two dispensaries face routine fines and legal threats from the City of Vancouver.
"We purchase from the craft market or the black market or whatever you want to call it," he said.
Dozens of licences issued
There are now 59 federal licenses for growing medical marijuana in Canada, five of which belong to companies with two sites. Many of the growers aren't currently authorized to sell cannabis.
Ian Dawkins, president of the Cannabis Commerce Association of Canada, a trade association representing about 100 small and medium growers in the so-called "craft market," says the licensed growers are only supplying about five per cent of the current market — including the medical and black markets.