OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is blaming pockets of resistance to the legalization of marijuana for a cannabis supply shortage that has slowed the dissemination of legal weed in parts of Canada.
The shortages have been most pronounced in Ontario, forcing that province to limit the number of licenced pot dispensaries that will be opened in the spring.
Quebec has also experienced shortfalls in supply and has reduced the hours that cannabis stores are opening their doors to customers.
In a year-end interview with The Canadian Press last week, Trudeau called the supply shortage the biggest challenge associated with the legalization of cannabis.
And in an interview Monday with Montreal radio station CHOM, Trudeau predicted supply issues should be sorted out within a few months.
But the prime minister suggested the shortages of cannabis in Quebec were linked to municipal governments and others who tried to delay the inevitable.
“There was . . . so much resistance to it from the local political classes, from, you know, the chattering classes,” Trudeau told radio host Terry Di Monte.
“They were caught flat footed without enough of a supply.”
“It’s going to take a little time to adjust but we’re on the right track,” Trudeau added.
Supply shortages have plagued a number of provinces in the weeks since the first legal sales were made on Oct. 17, with industry insiders warning they could persist for years, not just months.
Khurram Malik, CEO of the Toronto-based cannabis company Biome Grow Inc., last month blamed, in part, the tough regulations imposed by Health Canada on the country’s 132 licensed producers for the lack of adequate supply to meet demand.
He also said the federal department was taking too long to approve licences for grow-ops but added it was also taking time for cannabis producers to develop quality and compliant products.
Trudeau said last week he was unhappy with Quebec legislation introduced this month that would raise the legal age for cannabis consumption to 21 from 18, warning that the restriction could make it difficult to curb organized crime’s involvement in the illegal cannabis trade.