BCGEU strike leaves private cannabis retailers high and dry

B.C.’s private cannabis retailers are facing the brunt of the ongoing BC Liquor Distribution Branch workers strike, as they fear supply shortage in the coming weeks

Queensborough Cannabis Dispensary's selection of products on display. The owner of the private cannabis retailer in New Westminster says current job action by the BCGEU could wind up affecting private retailers, as the B.C. distribution centre has closed down | Photo: Contributed

If you had big plans for the weekend involving booze and some pot, you might want to think again. 

On Monday, the BC Liquor Distribution Branch (BCLDB) announced its stoppage of cannabis distribution across British Columbia, following a strike involving more than 33,000 B.C. General Employees' Union (BCGEU) workers. The BC Cannabis distribution centre has closed because of the job action.

This could lead to a shortage in cannabis supply across the province and empty shelves for the consumers. 

While the strike doesn't affect private cannabis retailers, the owner of Queensborough Cannabis dispensary believes the effects of the strike could be felt across by the private market. 

In a statement to Glacier Media, Calvin Barson, owner of Queensborough Cannabis dispensary, said the province's monopoly on the cannabis market will lead to short supplies for consumers. 

Barson said that, although he is one of the luckier ones to have a large inventory, he could run out of products as soon as three weeks from now due to the supply-demand shortage. 

"We have no new supplies," he said. "And consumers are trying to get whatever they can and stock up."

Amidst the battle between the workers and the province, Barson fears the doors to the black market will be reopened as a result of the strike, when legal supply of cannabis stops.

"We have worked really hard to get people off the black markets and into the shops," he said, "and this could lead consumers back to the black market." 

Meanwhile, BCLDB said that, BC Cannabis stores continue to operate and serve customers as normal, although online orders are not being accepted.

It is a decision that affects Barson, who believes it is unfair for private retailers to face the brunt while provincial stores continue to operate amidst the distribution shortage.

Barson hopes the consumers stock up on their needs before stores run out and an understanding is reached to prevent private stores from suffering due to the job action. 

Burnaby Now