Canadians Are Panic-Buying Marijuana — Could Coronavirus Cause Another Shortage?

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Inventory at Canadian cannabis stores are lower than ever due to increased sales, but officials maintain supply is stable.

Marijuana sales hit an unprecedented bump last week, as American consumers stocked up on cannabis goods like it was toilet paper or hand sanitizer. Data now shows Canadian cannabis stores experience a similar coronavirus-related spike in sales, in some provinces.

The Ontario Cannabis Store, which serves as the province’s online monopoly supplier, reported an 80% increase last week in customer volume for an average Saturday. An aggressive drop in prices to increase competitiveness online was in part responsible for the uptick in sales, according to Marijuana Business Daily.

Headset, a cannabis intelligence firm, also confirmed Canadian marijuana stores had increased sales due to coronavirus-related worries. Canadians were spending about $20 CAD more per basket last Monday and some stores more than doubled their normal volume in sales. Headset also hinted at another factor driving these sales — a possible shortage of supply.

Private retail in the Alberta and British Columbia provinces typically carry around 5.8 weeks of inventory in stores. By the end of last week, those same stores had just over 3 weeks of supply left. Edibles and cannabis-infused drinks, which had only recently become available in legal Canadian markets, have been the most depleted of supplies. Meanwhile, pre-rolled joints have taken a dip in market share, as consumption habits have changed in the coronavirus era.

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Photo by Zach Heiberg via Unsplash

“With edibles, it’s probably the easiest way to get high without touching your face very much,” Headset Director of Analytics Liz Connors told The Fresh Toast. “If you want to share it with someone, they’re pre-wrapped little. So there’s very little risk of transmitting the virus versus sharing a joint. I think it’s a great decision right now.”

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Around this time last year, the Canadian legal marijuana market experienced a shortage of supply and couldn’t meet consumer demand. But multiple province officials maintain that supply is not a worry, at the moment.

An Ontario Cannabis Store spokesperson confirmed to MJBizDaily they have enough inventory to meet the demand. The Societe Quebecoise du Cannabis, which has a monopoly on marijuana sales in Quebec, also stated they have enough inventory. Many licensed producers also remain fully operational, according to reports.

“We have noticed an increase in sales in the past few days,” SQDC spokesman Fabrice Giguere told CTV News. “The supply is stable, both online and at the branch.”

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