The ongoing worker strike in British Columbia, Canada has, in part, led to the closure of 50 cannabis shops and about 500 job losses, Jaclynn Pehota, executive director of the Retail Cannabis Council of B.C. (RCCBC), told the National Post. The British Columbia General Employees’ Union (BCGEU), which represents about 33,000 public-service workers across the province, set up picket lines at four BC Liquor Distribution Branch (BCLDB) wholesale and distribution centers earlier this month.
While retail cannabis and liquor stores are not part of the strike, which is over wages, the cannabis division of the Burnaby customer care center is part of the action and, in response, the BCLDB said its cannabis distribution center will neither ship products nor assemble or process orders, which has led to product shortages at B.C. dispensaries.
“We’re going to be looking at between 50 and 70% of private retailers closing their doors in B.C. due to product shortages.” — Pehota to the Post
Pehota added that retailers “don’t have a month’s worth of product on hand, because that month’s worth of product becomes 50% less valuable after 30 days.”
“There was no way for the industry to prepare for what’s happening to them,” she told the Post, “and the failure of this monopoly supply chain means there’s nothing legally they can do to keep their businesses open.”
The store closure and shortage of legal cannabis at the state-run shops are forcing consumers back into the unregulated market, George Smitherman, president and CEO of the Canada Cannabis Council, told the Post. He said that in B.C., legal sales had penetrated about 30% into the unregulated market but that “estimating the size of the illicit market is a very tricky art because actual data collected by governments is decidedly thin.”
In a statement following the start of the strike, BCLBD said it did “not know the extent of any future job action” and could not “speculate on the inventory levels held by wholesale customers nor customer demand and buying behaviors in this dynamic environment.”
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