Medical cannabis growth in Canada stalls as stockpiles rise

Canada’s medical cannabis companies are bolstering their inventories ahead of adult-use legalization, even while signing up fewer new patients than ever, indicating an industrywide shift in focus to meeting demand in the upcoming recreational market.

As of the end of March, patient registrations with Canada’s licensed medical marijuana producers reached almost 300,000. That’s a 10% increase from the previous quarter – the slowest growth on record.

The country’s Parliament passed legislation last month allowing recreational cannabis sales to begin Oct. 17.

New data from Health Canada also shows that licensed producers continue to build up their inventories of dried cannabis and oil to head off any potential shortage.

The total amount of dried marijuana in licensed producers’ inventories reached 44,000 kilograms (97,000 pounds) at the end of March, a 13% increase from the previous quarter.

Cannabis oil inventories reached 14,600 kilograms at the end of March, up 31% from the previous quarter.

Together, companies have stockpiled 58,600 kilograms of cannabis.

A recent report by the Bank of Montreal estimated demand for medical and recreational cannabis in the first year of legalization at 337,400 kilograms.

“It is clear that licensed producers are preparing for the impending wave of demand from the recreational market,” said Alex Shiff, senior consultant for Navigator, a Vancouver, British Columbia, communications firm.

“There are forecasts for how much cannabis will be necessary to meet consumer demand, but these are simply estimates. As an industry, it is important to try and ensure that we do not have shelves sitting empty come Oct. 17.”

Matt Lamers can be reached at [email protected]

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