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What Does the Global Cannabis Market Shortage Mean for Patients?

Although naysayers and proponents alike predicted that many problems would come with cannabis legalization, few anticipated that there wouldn’t be enough cannabis. Now, leading industry figures worry that there might not be enough producers or retail frameworks to supply the growing market.

How might this situation impact ordinary Canadians who use cannabis for medical purposes? Here’s what to know.

The Scope of the Problem

According to Toronto’s Financial Post, Canada has been having trouble supplying consumers with cannabis since the October 2018 implementation of legal adult recreational use via the House of Commons passage of bill C-45. This bill, known as the Cannabis Act, was designed to permit individuals to grow their own plants as well as legally possess and purchase products from licensed retailers. What it failed to — and arguably couldn’t — accomplish was the creation of a viable retail framework to meet demand.

One cannabis CEO told Financial Post that he predicted there would be a five-year wait until the supply chain caught up with consumer need. At the provincial level, where cannabis is also regulated, a lack of licensed producers is a big hurdle, and many in the industry partially blame the difficult process would-be commercial producers must complete to obtain licenses from Health Canada.

The Outlook for Medical Cannabis Consumers

Why does this matter for medical consumers if the Cannabis Act made home grows legal? It’s important to understand that the new law didn’t override provincial authority — These governments can still forbid certain activities that they classify as recreational. Case in point, Manitoba and Quebec have both nixed the idea of allowing people to grow the normally permitted four plants per household. Individuals there will need to get prescriptions to grow any plants, as will those who require more than four personal plants in any province. Another option is to work with a licensed medical marijuana professional who’s able to prescribe marijuana that you can purchase directly from the government.

Many of the current problems with Canada’s legalization are likely to get worked out as the industry matures, but the takeaway for medical consumers is fairly clear — Relying on the recreational system to serve your medicinal needs probably isn’t the best idea. Although some larger producers and retailers are even going so far as to cover the excise taxes for medical patients, the law’s revenue framework and high demand mean that prices may increase for a while, as they did in U.S. states such as Colorado and California. Those who seriously rely on cannabis for medical purposes would be well-advised to get their prescriptions or personal production license so that they can keep their options open.