What ails Canada’s legal cannabis industry? Lack of stores, mostly

Weed Me’s growing facility in Pickering, Ont., is so crammed with cannabis plants that a row of pots have to be cranked out of the way before people can walk between them.

The growing rooms are perfectly clean and brilliantly lit, and of course, the building is filled with the overwhelming smell of weed.

Are there people in Pickering, east of Toronto, who might want to buy legal cannabis grown in their community by their neighbours? Well, so far, Weed Me hasn’t had the chance to find out.

As things stand, if recreational consumers in Pickering want to consume weed grown at the Weed Me facility in their city, they’ll have to get on a plane, fly to British Columbia or Saskatchewan and buy it there.

“Often, my friends ask how they can get my product,” Weed Me founder Terry Kulaga explains. “At the moment, they have to get a script from a doctor and sign up as a patient, and then we can sell directly to them. Otherwise, we sell our product quite literally all the way on the other side of the nation.”

The first year or so of legal cannabis in Canada has been a bumpy ride. There is a growing legal industry where there wasn’t one before, but there have also been collapsing share values and mass layoffs.  People involved in Canada’s cannabis industry say some of the issues just come with the territory of companies pressured to get too big too fast and the fact that legal weed still costs a lot more than the competing grey-market product.

But over and over again, members of the cannabis industry say their main problem is a painful lack of retail stores in high-population provinces like Quebec and Ontario.

Pickering, for example, not only doesn’t have a store but has no prospect of one in the near future, and Weed Me isn’t allowed to sell directly from its facility.

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