Recreational cannabis was legalized in Canada on October 17, 2018, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to buy everywhere. The plant’s availability varies widely from province to province. In some regions it can be difficult to find, and for a while there were provinces that only sold cannabis through government-run online sites.
Actually, demand for cannabis has widely outstripped supply. Canadian provinces have largely taken a cautious and steady approach before broadly expanding cannabis sales.
Let’s take a broad look at where cannabis can currently be purchased across the county, so you can learn about your access options to this plant now that it’s finally been legalized.
Despite British Columbia’s reputation for vast pot consumption, it’s Alberta that is pulling way ahead in terms of the number of brick and mortar stores selling cannabis. Even only one month into pot legalization, there were no less than 70 stores throughout Alberta, while British Columbia had just one.
Alberta allows private retailers to sell cannabis, while BC decided to split sales between private and government-run stores. BC is taking a “low and slow” approach, as stores are introduced gradually. Don’t expect to find stores on every street corner in BC, even though the province has an international reputation for producing excellent weed.
Saskatchewan has at least 27 cannabis locations throughout the province. Marijuana smokers have to be pleased with the amount of stores, given the size of the population. Just over 1.1 million people live in Saskatchewan, and Regina alone has four locations at which to buy cannabis.
Perhaps the most disappointing and confusing rollout of cannabis sales in Canada has been in Ontario. The most populous province was served for months only by an online retailer called the Ontario Cannabis Store, which itself suffered from a lack of supply.
Half a year after cannabis legalization, Ontario has only nine brick and mortar cannabis stores. Toronto, the country’s most populated city by far, has only one. More stores are planning to open as soon as their licensing process is complete. Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government, elected in June 2018, months before legalization came into law, eliminated the previous government’s plans to sell cannabis at government-run stores.
Over in Newfoundland, the CannabisNL website sells marijuana legally, and nine stores opened up on the day cannabis became legal in Canada, with more set to open. But actually, the store Puff Puff Pass in Clarenville, Newfoundland had to shut down, blaming supply issues.
In Halifax, Nova Scotia, there is one stand-alone cannabis store, but weed can also be purchased from shops inside existing Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC) stores.
Ultimately, the availability of legal cannabis in Canada is in flux, though it is definitely expanding. But the beginning of legalization has been characterized by a slow, reluctant start on the part of many governments around the country. It’s unclear why such a gap has been allowed to exist between supply and demand. Surely this is just a temporary problem, and red tape hurdles and other issues will become a thing of the past as the cannabis business expands.