BC strike ‘undermines struggling cannabis sector,’ business group says

The Cannabis Council of Canada business group wants the province of British Columbia to come up with a contingency plan to safeguard the supply of legal marijuana in the province as an ongoing strike at the province’s monopoly wholesaler leaves some stores with nothing to sell.

In mid-August, B.C.’s monopoly cannabis distributor said its warehouse shut down as the result of a job action by employees represented by the BC General Employees Union (BCGEU).

As a result, stores haven’t been able to get products to sell and have sent employees home.

“The result of the strike on the cannabis industry has been a disrupted supply chain with no shipments in or out of distribution centers, resulting in the halt of cannabis products from licensed producers and processors to retail stores and consumers,” according to the Cannabis Council of Canada’s statement in a news release.

The business group warns that a diminishing supply of cannabis at the retail level has prompted consumers to return to the illicit market.

Ontario and Quebec have also experienced major service disruptions caused by other factors.

“The job action in BC, along with the current strike in Quebec, and the recent supply disruption in Ontario, shines a spotlight on the ineffectiveness and adverse consequences of provincial monopolies on cannabis distribution and the shortcomings of the federal government’s governance of legal cannabis,” said George Smitherman, CEO of the Cannabis Council of Canada.

“We urge the BC government to work with licensed cannabis producers and processors to execute a contingency plan solution before the public health and safety gains of legalization evaporate and the livelihoods of the thousands of British Columbians working in the legal cannabis sector are irreparably damaged.”

Without an urgent contingency supply plan, hundreds of retailers could close, imperiling the province’s legal cannabis producers and retailers as well as putting thousands of jobs at risk, the group said.

“As a B.C.-based licensed producer of cannabis, we could lose everything we’ve worked so hard to achieve in this province since cannabis legalization if government doesn’t act now,” British Columbia-headquartered Pure Sunfarms CEO Mandesh Dosanjh said in the release.

“We have deep supply chain expertise and would welcome the opportunity to have a conversation with government about re-establishing a safe supply quickly to market while respecting worker’s right to strike.”