In less than a week, recreational marijuana usage will become legal nationwide as the Cannabis Act comes fully into effect on Oct. 17.

While the limited number of retail storefronts approved to open that day expect lines out the door, industry experts have expressed concern over product supply being unable to meet demand.

A mere two stores set to open in Calgary for instance, and only a handful of stores are currently ready to open across all of Manitoba by the October 17 legalization date.

A recent analysis from the C.D. Howe Institute – an independent not-for-profit research think tank – found that the current level of marijuana production coupled with limited storefronts will mean only 30 to 60% of demand will be met in the first months after legalization.

“Based on current inventory levels and growth in production capacity, the industry is well positioned to supply product as consumers transition to the legal market.” – Mathieu Filion

The federal government has pushed back against those concerns, issuing statements of reassurance from Mathieu Filion, a spokesperson for Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor.

According to a Bloomberg report covering the government’s response, more than 160 expansions or modifications of existing marijuana grow facilities have been approved since June 2017. The government estimates the nation’s licensed growers have in excess of 11 million square feet of space as of the end of June, including space for cultivation and office space and storage.

In an email to Bloomberg, Filion commented: “Based on current inventory levels and growth in production capacity, the industry is well positioned to supply product as consumers transition to the legal market.”

Legal storefronts won’t be the only outlet for acquiring marijuana as legalization arrives. Besides allowing all adults 19 and older to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana at a time, the Cannabis Act further provides for adults to grow up to four plants on their own, which could result in a boom of homegrown cannabis.

Concerns remain that those who don’t have a legal storefront in their area will continue to buy directly from illegal sources, however. Black market sales are expected to decline slowly as new legal storefronts are opened and policies on sales and usage are ironed out on a province-by-province basis.