Sask. pot store credits government's hands-off approach for improvement of supply chain

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Like many marijuana entrepreneurs across the province, John Thomas's biggest concern when he opened his first store was supply.

Thomas is the co-founder of Jimmy's Cannabis Shop, which has locations in Battleford, Estevan and Martensville with another opening in Moosomin this Saturday. He said the stores initially struggled to get enough marijuana to reliably operate.

He was forced to close the Martensville location just days after opening due to running out of product.

Now, six months after legalization, supply is becoming much less of an issue. Thomas said the province's laissez-faire approach to the supply issue is part of the reason.

"At the beginning, I think it was advantageous for the government to be involved," he told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning. "But I think now we've actually seen that turn and we hear a lot from the producers they much prefer the Saskatchewan model."

He prefers Saskatchewan's model to Ontario's, where the provincial government acts as a wholesaler between growers and retailers, much like how Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming (SLGA) deals with alcohol.

While the supply problems seem to be easing, many in the industry believe the shortage of legal marijuana could drag on for years, especially as new product types like edibles come on the market in October.

Meanwhile, a reporter focused on the marijuana industry across Canada said Saskatchewan's pot market seems to be fairly healthy.

"I think actually Saskatchewan managed to have a good number of stores open," said Jameson Berkow, a cannabis reporter with the Globe and Mail. "Sad to say, here in Ontario, we are very much the laggards." 

While the SLGA leaves distribution between stores and approved growers, it's still responsible for licensing and regulating stores while producers are licensed federally by Health Canada

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